Sunday, September 25, 2016

BB Movie Review - Escapist Magazine

BB - Official Stills
"A strong independent movie, BB is worth your time!"

BB - The Camgirl Stalker Movie You Didn't Know You Wanted
by Matthew Parkinson, September 25th, 2016.

Directed and written by C.J. Wallis. Produced by Brandon Eames, Mousa Hamdan, Kristian Hanson, and Jennifer Mae. Release date: August 18, 2016.

It's often the case that the best films go unseen - in large part because of the way that the Hollywood system works. Gross simplification incoming. As budgets increase, filmmaker creativity goes down. You need to appeal to the masses in order to make your money back - if you're able to get financed at all. Lots of smaller movies make it onto the festival circuit, but distribution isn't guaranteed. And then you have something like BB, which was self-financed and released on its own website. You won't see something like it at your local multiplex, or even likely at a normal festival. It's a niche film but a good one.

The hook of BB, if you were to try to sell someone on it, would be that it's a "webcam stalker thriller." Our lead, Leah (Jennifer Mae), decides to don a pink wig and become a webcam model in order to make some money - at first to send her girlfriend, Alina (Victoria Fox), home to see her family - and eventually finds herself being stalked by a man who goes by the username "HornyHal" (Kristian Hanson). So, kind of like a more personal and less slasher-y Girl House, although I realize nobody saw Girl House, either, so forget about that comparison. Actually, there are a good number of movies about cyber predators stalking people with various technologies. Pick whichever suits your fancy.

The film is presented in a semi-documentary style, taking its time to showcase most of Leah's life both on- and off-camera. We also cross-cut to Hal, who spends a great deal of the film vlogging about his feelings toward Leah while attempting to justify the actions he's taken and is about to take. Leah's life begins unraveling before Hal even does anything to her - Alina won't respond to her calls, she begins indulging more frequently in drink, drugs, and smoke, and her general mental state begins to fall apart. Throw in an internet stalker and you've got yourself a movie.

More than anything, BB is a film about communication - often unrequited and unreciprocated. Leah fails to get a hold of Alina, Hal's interactions with Leah - at least at first - happen exclusively over a one-sided chat room, and Leah's attempts to contact her employer and the police over her cyber stalker are a reminder that proper channels often don't have the proper tools to deal with online harassment. And this one-sided communication is frustrating for all involved. Leah begins to become unstable in large part because of it, while Hal likely wouldn't go to the lengths he does had there been a more open line of back-and-forth dialogue.

BB is a non-judgmental thriller about a webcam model, a stalker, unreciprocated communication, and relationships. It's worth your time.
It's that little bit of depth to chew on that keeps one from thinking too hard about how some of the film feels contrived. For instance, Leah doesn't really seem to need the money - especially after paying for Alina's ticket. Maybe she becomes addicted to the attention, but the film doesn't delve into that. It doesn't delve much into how she was before, either, which lessens the impact of her unraveling. I mean, at least we learn some things about Hal through his vlogs, although given how he's, well, an internet stalker, you've got to take everything he says with a grain of salt, right?

BB is effective in large part because it feels legitimate - as if we're getting a slice of life of these characters, and that everything here is possible, even if it isn't likely. Jennifer Mae, in real life, is a webcam model, and she brings authenticity to the leading role. She might not be the best actor but she definitely holds her own in a performance that could've come across as superficial. And casting someone like Kristian Hanson, who doesn't exactly have the "Hollywood" look, makes him a more effective villain. "Yeah, that's probably what this type of person would look like and do" is the thought that crosses your mind upon seeing the film.

Even at less than 80 minutes in length, BB doesn't really have quite enough content to justify the running time. It feels like it gets repetitive midway through. After we've established who the players are and what they're doing, we find ourselves waiting for the thrills, and they take a little while to get there. And while the film on the whole looks and sounds quite nice for a micro-budget production - financed, directed, written and edited by C.J. Wallis - there are a couple of moments when the budget comes through, particularly when it comes to the sound mixing.

Look, I know it takes a lot for some people to see any movie, and when you do you're going to want to see the biggest blockbuster movie on the largest screen possible. BB probably isn't for you. It's for those who want a small reprieve from the Hollywood scene, where artists can make the movies they want without sacrifice in order to appeal to the broadest audience possible. BB is a non-judgmental thriller about a webcam model, a stalker, unreciprocated communication, and relationships. It's worth your time.

You can watch BB here.

Bottom Line: A strong independent movie, BB is worth your time.

Recommendation: BB is a good watch for anyone looking for something a little different.

3.5 out of 5

Check out the original review here.

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