Written by: Adrienne Clark
Directed by: Alex J. Mann
Cast: Julia Kelly
ME2 opens on a beautiful woman (Julia Kelly) sitting on her bed. She is on her phone instagram stalking herself. The picture is of her on the beach. She seems happy, smiling and posing for the camera. It looks like a great memory. Plus, it has over 7,000 likes.
She scrolls through some of her other photos–none of these have more than a couple of likes. After a quick check in the mirror, she picks up her phone again. That’s when things get really weird. Her happy beach picture looks her dead in the eye and waves. What follows is a terrifying minute of mind-bending horror.
Alex J. Mann’s ME2 is a horror short done right. It tells a clear story, complete with metaphor, without wasting a single frame. I liked every minute of it, and with less than three minutes to tell the story, that’s a good thing.
This short was different from many in that it didn’t focus on building tension through the unknown. Several recent horror shorts, such as the soon-to-be-full-length Lights Out, or Mann’s Snapchat horror win, 3 Seconds, immediately begin their films with a mysterious threat. The protagonist knows that something out of the norm is happening and they’re trying to comprehend the threat. ME2 builds tension by setting up a completely normal situation. Who out there hasn’t sat on their bed and looked at their own photos before? The tension builds as you watch someone do a perfectly mundane thing and know that it will end badly.
Still, the thing she’s doing is scary. Dwelling on our social media “wins” has become a part of life. We all notice when a post of ours is doing well, and we check on our posts throughout the day. Did 55 people like your political quip? I guarantee you’ll look and see which of your friends hit “like.”
Social media can be a shortcut to affirmation. But what happens when your social content doesn’t reflect the real you? What does it mean when people like your pictures by the thousands, yet you don’t find that person reflected in the mirror? These are just some of the questions raised in the film.
ME2 also succeeds on a technical level. The special effects are so seamless that it’s easy to forget just how much work went into getting it right. I’ve seen recent blockbuster releases with lower quality. This attention to detail highlights Mann’s commitment to the story. His work isn’t just thrown together for a quick scare; these films are made to last.
This short shows us, yet again, that Alex J. Mann is a director to watch. Rarely does a short pack this much of a punch.