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[Fantasia ’21] ‘#Blue_Whale’ review: Russian horror is a cautionary tales for today’s teens

Technology breeds new monsters in #Blue_Whale

The dangers of the internet seem to grow with the introduction of any new social media outlet or any passing trend. There have always been urban legends and things to fear, but the internet has a wide reach and convenience also makes danger accessible. This past decade has ushered in new horrors stemming from internet sensations. Slender Man, Momo, Instagrammers all meld together to create a new type of urban legend. #Blue_Whale is a film captured in Screenlife that raises awareness of the predators that lurk online waiting to prey on impressionable young minds. Fast paced and haunting, Anna Zaytseva’s #Blue_Whale is a horror film for today’s parents and teens.

The story is painfully delivered through text messages.

#Blue_Whale is a film composed entirely from the perspective of the many screens that consume daily lives. Shot through reflections of FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, computer screens, the audience is instantly invited into the life of Dana Brovkina. Dana is a teenage girl who has recently lost her seemingly perfect sister to suicide. Dana’s mother blames her for her sister’s death and will only communicate with her through text messages. Dana’s desperate attempt to learn about her sister’s death leads her into a dangerous game where she must perform a certain number of tasks that range from writing down your feelings to racing across an interstate. 

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Zaytseva’s story is powerful and artfully crafted. The story of Dana and her mother is painful and subtly delivered through the progression of their text messages. The use of ominous and terrifying images is just a small part of the tension in this film. #Blue_Whale looks at the horror behind the suicide game, but also looks at the isolation many teens face. Anna Potebnya gives a fantastic performance as Dana, a smart and brave teen who feels she has nothing to lose. Potebnya’s portrayal of Dana is fierce and intense. 

The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25

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