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Review: OFF FLEEK (2019) Horror-On-Sea 2020

Off Fleek is a five-minute short from writer/director Steven Dorrington. An effects-heavy piece of body horror centred around cyberbullying, it does a good job of getting its message across in minimal time.

Emma (Shona O’Sullivan)is having dinner with her family when her phone begins going off. Her younger sister (Phoebe Rawlinson) asks if that’s a boyfriend messaging so often. Her mother (Nicola Goodchild, After Death) snaps she wouldn’t know as Emma never tells her anything. Dad (Patrick Marlowe) just sits there silently

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Once Emma is in her room and at her laptop, we see what’s going on. A swarm of messages, all nasty, about her looks and personality. And these comments begin to have a very noticeable effect.

Dorrington, with help from makeup crew Hayley Ford and Rebecca Simpson, delivers Off Fleek’s message visually, with a minimum of dialogue. It’s not only about the bullying, though that is the most obvious issue. There’s also the disintegration of her family. It’s dinner, but nobody is talking. Not beyond complaints and snarky comments, anyway. This leaves Emma with no support in the face of the bullying and leaves her so much more vulnerable to it.

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Doing it in this manner avoids the tendencies shorts like this have for preachy dialogue, which is nice. The final result is like one of those safety films you saw in school. The ones that used gory footage to shock you into changing your behaviour. Except in Off Fleek, the effects aren’t awful.

Off Fleek is currently playing festivals. You can check the production company Aura Films Facebook page for upcoming dates.

Our Score
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