Suicide is not temporary!
Director : Amy S Weber
Cast : Lexi Ainsworth, Hunter King and Jimmy Bennett
I’ve reviewed a large variety of different films on this site, including a hefty amount of films presented in the found footage style, but none (as far as I can recall) have been outside of the horror genre. So when I initially saw that this was a found footage movie I thought to myself that I knew what it would be, but the trailer showed me something else (I only watched the trailer a few minutes before I started watching the film). It’s an anti-bullying film, something which I have only done once before, the British horror “Tormented”, and even then that was a rather loose anti-bullying movie.
To be honest, I added this to my Netflix “to watch” list thinking it was a horror from the description and it was going to be a revenge act, and it was only watching the trailer that I realised that this was not the case.
Not sure I can be bothered with this now, but I haven’t reviewed a film for a while so I suppose I should.
Jessica (Ainsworth) is given a dragonfly pin that doubles as a secret camera by her best friend Brian (Bennett). Some time later she locks herself in her bathroom and swallows a handful of pills. Word soon spreads of her suicide attempt at school, a school that has recently been chosen to take part in a documentary series. Several students tell the documentary makers that they believe that Jessica’s suicide attempt was down to bullying from Avery (King), although she heavily denies it.
The documentarians start to believe the rumours but give Avery the chance to document her life to show what it is like for teenage girls at school in 2015 America. Her mother eventually discusses that she wasn’t allowed on the cheerleading squad due to her weight, but says that the coach made up rumours of bullying instead.
After a while Brian decides that enough is enough and he calls the documentarians to his found to show them what Jessica recorded leading up to her suicide attempt.
A good anti-bullying film?
There are some examples of why this is a good anti-bullying film, such as you really get a strong dislike for Avery, but how she also gets pressured by her mother and that might explain some of her behaviour. In that sense it is excellently presented and emotionally engaging. You genuinely want Avery to have her comeuppance, and that in many ways is good story-telling.
As well as this, there is also a great scene towards the end of the film when *SPOILER ALERT* Jessica flatlines and you watch her parents try to console each other in amongst their grief, and even though Jessica does eventually start responding to the crash-cart, the emotional impact of the scene is superb.*SPOILER ENDS*
However, despite how engaging it is in terms of how it makes you really dislike Avery, the film spends so much time building her up to be a liar for the cameras, that and by the time Brian eventually decides to share the footage that Jessica captured you’re sort of bored. Don’t get me wrong, it gets you back quickly, but there is a solid 35 minutes where precisely nothing on screen that keeps you interested, and even then that’s only for about five minutes. The film moves at the pace of a snail for the vast majority and trudges towards the inevitable conclusion.
“A Girl Like Her” is a well meaning anti-bullying film, and on some levels I can see why it has a decent rating on IMDB, but unfortunately it just wasn’t for me. I’ve seen a few other anti-bullying films that were considerably lower in terms of budget, but had some heart to them, such as “Jonathan Wamback” (please note it is some years since I saw that, so I could be remembering it as being better than it was), but ultimately the “A Girl Like Her” struggles to your interest for long periods of time.
One of the main reasons for this is that the movie, which runs for 91 minutes, is exceptionally one dimensional and seems to focus only one the bullying aspect, almost as if nothing else at all is going on in any of these characters lives. If your characters are one dimensional then I really struggle with them, that’s one of the reasons that I liked the aforementioned “Tormented” so much, there is more than one aspect to their lives.
I am not sure if this was ever released at the cinema, infact I seriously doubt it, as this is has the made-for-TV feel, and never raises anywhere near something that would be worthy of anything more. I found this in the dark corners of Netflix one day and that’s probably the best place for it.
“A Girl Like Her” is well intentioned, but you soon lose patience with waiting for the inevitable result of bulling someone. Whilst the film does a great job of making you hate Avery, it takes precisely zero time to develop any other character and whilst you’re really wanting her to get what’s coming, you do not care about any other characters.
It is an anti-bullying film that tells you more about the story of the bully, rather than the bullied, so it is a bit of a strange approach for an anti-bullying film, but in many way it sort of works as you really start to hate her and want her to have her to suffer like she made Jessica did.
I wouldn’t recommend this movie.