With the promise of rapidly gaining new social media followers, teenager Ophelia (Katie Leszynski) shares a mysterious GIF online and is hunted by a terrifying winged monster in “The Pey,” a short film from writer / director Ramone Menon.
Menon understands the language of horror, utilizing effective camera angles and building a palpable suspense through editing and a crackerjack sense of timing. The visuals are ominous, especially when the shadowy, menacing monster (known as the Pey) appears and begins to stalk Ophelia. The story is partially told through video calls with her friends and unsettling alerts about detected motion from her home security system.
What elevates this standard “viral curse” story are the sophisticated themes at play. As the GIF is shared, the Pey’s strength grows. It’s an effective allegory for the plague of disinformation that’s so easily spread through social media. Just like the monster in this story, the more something is shared, the more power it gains, often making fake news become real to a majority of online users. The film is clever in making a very valid point.
“The Pey” plays into traditional fears of the unknown, and the idea of being tormented by a demon will always be scary. But when you stop to think about it, perhaps it’s our obsession with social media and virtual likes that may be the most frightening of all.
By: Louisa Moore