#REALITYHIGH Review - We Have Seen This Movie Many Times Before

#RealityHigh | Netflix
Photo: #RealityHigh | Netflix

#REALITYHIGH

Director

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Fernando Lebrija

Cast

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Nesta Cooper, Keith Powers, Alicia Sanz & Kate Walsh

Genre

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Comedy, Teen Drama

Rating

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Avg user Rating

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Bullies are sadly a part and parcel of the American high-school lore. In many a teenager narrative, they form an essential chunk of the plot or the sub-plot as antagonists for the underdog heroes to overcome. The depiction of bullies has also changed with time. Take Spiderman for example, where Flash Thomson has morphed from a physical bully to an emotional one. Mean Girls, a cult 2004 movie depicted female bullies and the toxic culture of gossip, shaming and vapid consumerism. The heinous nature of the bullies is hardly a story of the past. Despite countless measures, bullies are never short on avenues to spread their toxicity and display their power, influence and dominance. This is true of the digital age as well, where the internet has become a prime social influencer. With its humongous reach and addictive social networks, bullies have a new medium to cement their social authority by preying on hapless individuals. Hence, we think it's apt that a movie addressing these issues got made. #Realityhigh is an attempt at just that, but is it any good?

Sadly no. #Realityhigh raises a lot of interesting questions about the online culture but never feels the need to answer any of them. It is heavily inspired by Mean Girls but is confused about its tone. The shift from comedy to exploring the dark perils of social media fame isn't really effective at making a point. For a show challenging superficiality of the social media culture, its diagnosis is a superficial mush.

Chances are, if you have seen the trailer, you ended up witnessing the plot for the whole movie. Still, here's the gist. #Realityhigh tells the story of Dani Barnes, who is an introverted nerd on her way to college on scholarship. She has a crush on Cameron Drake, who is the boyfriend of Alice Medina - the social media diva in the school. Years ago, during the times of the inception of the Social Media, Alice and Dani were actually best friends, until, Alica pranked Dani and the video of the prank went viral. A humiliated Dani erased her social media presence and became a recluse, largely hanging out with her friend Freddie and volunteering at the local vet clinic. Alice for no reason breaks up with Cameron and it turns out Cameron has a crush on Dani. So he asks her out but, Alice hates their relationship and begins an elaborate plan of social media humiliation of Dani.

Thin on plot, the good cast is one of the positives about the movie. But, there are sudden and unexpected changes in the character's behaviour, mostly to arrive at the dramatic plot turns. In the middle of the movie, Dani goes from being a sweet shy person to chugging down vodkas while dancing on the DJ podium in a matter of minutes. Introverts don't change their behavior that quick with strangers in any social event, no matter how many vodkas shots we have taken. Ask any introvert. The plot turns themselves are cliches again, so no groundbreaking moments to witness here. The movie is also pretty judgemental of its characters, especially Alice. There's a quiet moment in which she explains how her mom controls her food, fashion and her image. With tens of thousands of online followers, she feels immense social pressure. But, there's no character development here. She starts and ends her journey as a caricature evil incarnate who can't stand two people being in love.

#RealityHigh is a missed opportunity. There's room for commentary on bullying in the social media age. 13 reasons why did it and got the conversation going. Even if you don't care about the commentary, #RealityHigh feels like an amalgamation of every high-school movie ever made. There's nothing new on offer here. In case you still want to watch a good high-school drama that tackles bullying, Mean Girls is streaming on Netflix.

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