Alexandra Serio’s Tingle Monsters is firmly rooted in the malice women encounter on the internet. In this era of the #MeToo movement, women filmmakers have used horror as a platform to speak out against sexism and other atrocities directed toward women. Similarly, Serio covers a hefty topic with ease and inserts enough social commentary in her short film.
Tingle Monsters focuses on a ASMR vlogger named Dee (Alexandra Serio) who returns to live streaming after a brief hiatus. Her new vlog is quickly watched by a large number of her followers. She explains that many things in her life have gone topsy-turvy, due to a toxic relationship causing her to move across the country. However, her followers, who at first offer words of affirmation and concern for her absence, cause her to leave the chat window due to unsolicited sexual comments from some viewers. This plot device allows for the tension to escalate as Dee’s viewers notice a masked intruder (Kareem Rahma) inside her apartment and try to warn her.
As with other recent web-based horror films, such as Unfriended: Dark Web and Cam, Serio’s film takes full advantage of the limited single-shot POV of a web camera. Shot in a single location, we see Dee seated in front of her computer, oblivious to anything that may be going on behind her. Video lag and connection issues, such as an occasional pixelated image, occur throughout. Serio uses these devices to good effect, eventually leading to a giant jump scare and confrontation.
But the most bruising horror is the vitriol Dee’s followers post to the chat; they truly embody the “monsters” term in the title. While I won’t give the twist away, the reactions from her viewers are quite hostile.
The question that remains then is whether the film is terrifying? Tingle Monsters gets its point across effectively. There is enough sustained tension as we see a looming figure in the background waiting to strike. But is the resulting jump scare enough to shake audiences? Perhaps. If not, the underlying message is sure to get under the skin and fester like a gangrenous wound.
Rating: 7 out of 10 stars