Cyberbully stars Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) as 16-year-old Casey Jacobs, a girl who uses social networking aplenty – Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat… all that sort of thing.
For some reason, her Spotify account is playing up and it seems to be the work of a lad at school called Nathan who spilled the beans about her online about taking anti-depressants. A lad in her class called Alex helps her get back at him by hacking into Nathan’s Twitter account (although it’s made to look like Twitter but without the name). However, it’s not Alex…
Not only is she being watched via her webcam, but the hacker downloads a file onto her laptop allowing him to hear her as well as talk to her via a speech synthesiser program. At least, she assumes it’s a man, until it brings up a female voice as a change. The hacker then makes posts online to her friends, of embarrassing moments in her past, and threatens to post her topless “special selfies” if she goes offline. They even demand that she admits she, herself, is a cyberbully, as it transpires she’s teased others online…
Everything that happens to Casey is something that has happened to teenagers in real life, but this drama puts Casey on the receiving end of all of these aspects to give it the drama the “worst case scenario” hook.
With a first-rate performance from Maisie Williams exhibiting nervousness and anxiety in spades, and perfect pacing from writers Ben Chanan and David Lobatto, with accompanying direction from Chanan, Cyberbully is a must-watch one-off drama.
By the end of the drama, it also delivered a powerful anti-bullying message for anyone going through such a situation, about how if you stop talking to the bullies, they lose all their power as they become nothing.
Any downsides? Well, while the advert breaks were taken into account with the script, and tension was built up to them, the fact you were then forced to endure several minutes of chirpy meerkats, unfunny furniture adverts or clips from forthcoming TV shows, really jarred with the tension and it took time to get back into the programme. And one of these forthcoming programme trailers was to ask if NHS Boob Job girl Josie Cunningham is Britain’s most-hated woman… Well, no is the answer. And it displlayer the same kind of crass behaviour as that given by Casey in some of her actions. Life imitating art?
I did have to mute the programme once the end credits began, however, as viewers were forced to listen to the usual arse-for-a-mouth wafflings from a continuity announcer about what was on next week and also on next, after this (which I could see from the visuals). The next programme? My Granny The Escort. ‘Born Risky’, Channel 4? Do me a favour.
However, to end on, I did have to laugh at an inconsequential tweet shown early on, “If travel broadens the mind, then why is Ben Fogle still stupid?” 🙂
Cyberbully isn’t yet out on DVD or Blu-ray, but it’s something that should be seen by all teenagers, at the very least. Perhaps show it in schools to generate discussion?
Director: Ben Chanan
Producer: Leah Cooper
Screenplay: Ben Chanan and David Lobatto
Music: Jon Opstad
Casey: Maisie Williams
Megan: Ella Purnell
Jennifer Li: Haruka Abe
Alex: Jake Davies
Tamara: Daisy Waterstone
Hacker: Wilson Haagens
Dad: Anthony Shuster
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.