If last week I was trying my hand at Jenna Marbles, then this week I’m attempting an ode to Adum Plaze. When I’ve paid homage to YMS reviews in the past, they’ve been full-blown clusterfuck roasts of some sort of B horror fiasco that I was attempting to hold to too high of a standard. In an effort to make this week a little less shitty, I would like to share a quickie on something I actually fucking enjoyed.
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, my short attention span and I are very much partial to YouTube. Roughly once a month, I actually remember Netflix exists. While I take my music way too seriously, I take film with more of a grain of entertainment salt, generally consuming my depo shot of coming of age angst before promptly forgetting about it for another four weeks. Or, as I was explaining to Robin the other day while discussing Let Me In, “I accept the grocery store egg salad sandwich that Hollywood gives me and don’t ask too many questions.”
Needless to say, “Netflix original” doesn’t always equate to “Netflix, original,” but I’m okay with that if it means 90 means of being distracted from the fact that I’m a mortal wombat criss-cross applesauced on a rock flying through space. Last summer’s You Get Me is a perfect example of a film that possesses this brand of merit. In short, it’s about a one-night stand gone awry when Bella Throne becomes hellbent on cuffing this cheating wanker boy. Yet, newer drop Bad Match calls into question why exactly we’re supposed to feel bad for a protagonist who uses people in the first place.
While Bad Match is far from a perfect movie, thematically, there’s a lot to be appreciated. It explores the complicated dynamics of social media platforms, ultimately coming to the conclusion that they reflect what we project. Despite meditating on Tinder, Facebook, and Twitter, its analysis is much more nuanced than say, Cyberbully. As my boy Adum points out, it is all too often that teen films examine the internet in isolation without seeing how existing social structures and cultural norms shape the relationship.
Bad Match overcomes preachy, “the internet is bad mkay” discourse by 1. not taking itself too seriously and 2. kicking toxic, dehumanizing “my ex is psycho” masculinity in its motherfucking dick. In a twist of an ending, you come to realize that this average Lifetime film fit for casual background watching was hardly that at all. Through dark humor and smart foreshadowing, the film only becomes even more enjoyable in its second viewing as you pick out all the clues you had initially missed. If a multiple-watch shelf life differentiates the men from the fuckboys in horror, then Bad Match is coming out ahead.
Heads up: from here on out, this review is not going to be spoiler free, but there are too many subtleties that I’m too excited about to keep them under wraps. There are also a couple of little details I’d like to point out that would have elevated the film’s intelligence if they would have been preemptively considered. So that was your warning, 3, 2, 1…
From the start, this grown frat boy is already manipulating his Tinder dates into downing tequila shots by pretending like he’s able to read their minds. Like a low-grade form of date rape, this detail not only shows the underbelly of chasing love, fun, and the love of fun, but it becomes a telling sign of how Harris will go about kidnapping the “psycho bitch” in question much later on. Played by Lili Simmons of Banshee, Riley clearly establishes a connection with him that isn’t concocted in her head. Their date starts decisively less awkwardly than his other Tinder dates as intrinsic humor counteracts cringe.
However, after they inevitably get drunk enough to start hooking up, it’s clear that Harris still has plans to peace out as quickly as he did from the post-sex sleepiness of his dates that felt much less organic. Sure, nothing quite beats falling asleep alone—you can have Trisha Paytas hypnotically murmuring from your laptop, you don’t have to feel embarrassed if your stomach makes a Gorgoroth sound…I mean really, relaxation is never more unbounded. That being said, it can be jarring when you fuck a person who you like (and who you thought liked you) and then they just awkwardly bounce.
As the opening half progresses, Harris’ cold dismissiveness continues to be conveyed. Despite his co-worker’s clear infatuation for his ex-girlfriend, he advises him to simply delete her off Facebook as one would throw out leftovers. He then proceeds to make a marketing pitch for an insurance company about gambling, suggesting that casual deletion is the back-up plan for a round of Tinder roulette gone bad.
Despite Riley’s budding feelings for him, he continues to keep her in the box of “non-girlfriend material” because she changes her hair too much or some shit. While it’s painfully obvious that her color-shifting streaks are just clip-ins from Claire’s, it’s hard to understand why he wouldn’t want to make room for a rainbow in his khaki hole of an apartment. Hell, all he does in there otherwise is play COD with some random kid online he likes to bully for not getting, like, mad pussy bro. But nope, he just wants her colorful stir fry surprise in the trash—assumingly, because he thinks it might be poisoned given his own actions, past and future. Plus, actually sitting down and eating dinner with a girl you like? Ew, who would wanna do that when you could just lick each other’s buttholes? Damn, I’m growing reactionary in my old age.
The extent to which he is willing to turn a deaf ear on his best friends’ advice is also quite telling of his character, suggesting that edgelord pessimism isn’t an exclusive byproduct of app-based dating. Despite their advice to give Riley a chance, he keeps insisting that she’s psycho for wanting to contact him post-hookup. He even gets defensive about stupid shit that doesn’t matter. Like, his homie is just trying to tell him that swishing some coconut oil in your mouth can be good for your teeth and it gets turned into a battle of proving legitimacy. Both friends find evidence online that support their claims in terms of level of effectiveness, but none of it stems from reputable websites. It’s all just one giant inkblot test.
As the topic returns to Riley while out at their favorite bar, Harris continues to rip seeming obsession a new one before going on to claim that Tinder is no more than a break in our pathetic, boring lives. Of course, right when he says that, Riley comes lurking behind him. She goes on to yell at him for being a piece of shit, but it’s clear that she heard more of their conversation than could have been feasibly possible given her time of entry. But, what this scene does do well is raise an important question. Riley found out what bar he was at from a Facebook check-in, but if that’s not a commonly-accepted invitation to be found, why do check-ins exist in the first place?
Riley, by no means a perfect character, goes on to get back at Harris by threatening suicide via text. While it’s at first confusing why Harris wouldn’t have just sent the police to investigate after he finally got her address, the fact that the threat was no more than a prank suggests that a visit from an ambulance would have obscured the later details of the plot. It’s kind of lame, but I’ll let it go this time. This scene is otherwise great because it conveys the warmth of Riley’s home, which stands in stark contrast to Harris’. He goes on to break her mirror in rage, which serves as the first warning shot of his deep-seated violent tendencies
As Harris’ life falls apart after he gets framed for downloading child porn, the first glimmer of hope appears that maybe, just maybe, this isn’t going to be another “psycho bitch of an ex” movie. Assuming Riley is responsible, he calls her repeatedly to demand a confession, but still spooked from his mirror stunt, she leaves his calls unanswered. Peculiarly, her voicemail message snarkily declares “just be a normal person and text me,” which seems out of character considering how Harris made such a BFD out of the fact that she had the audacity to actually call him. On second that, perhaps the irony is the revenge.
After Harris has his little stint in jail, he hangs out with his bail-out bud at their corner bar. This scene is perhaps the best example of the film’s use of dark humor. The pair discusses how Harris’ potential felony status could take away rights he’s taken for granted, yet never even utilized, like voting. Meanwhile, a shitty karaoke rendition of The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” serves as the soundtrack. Shit, always thought that was a Creed song. The more you know.
As Harris becomes more obsessed with getting Riley to confess to allegedly setting him up, more and more evidence points to the fact that he’s actually the crazy one. He goes to her apartment and roughs her up, prompting her to get a restraining order against him. Why would one get a 90-foot radius ban against an individual with whom they’re obsessed? Hmmm. What is clear is that Harris is one big ass baby as he gets stuck at a kiddie computer at the public library. While it’s confusing why he made a fake Facebook when he ultimately ends up catfishing Riley through Tinder, the absurdity of a big man sitting on a tiny ass chair speaks volumes.
You wouldn’t think Riley would be so keen on meeting someone online so quickly after having to file a restraining order against a Tinder suitor, but, uh, well, she does anyway. Perhaps because the catfish profile alleges that they had a lecture class together she’s more down to meet him, but who knows. Lo and behold, it’s Harris who arrives at their date/set-up. Naturally, he proceeds to drug her drink and kidnap her. In one last bloody scene after she comes-to, Riley puts up a valiant fight, but ultimately ends up lying dead in the street with a knife in her heart. Of course, as Harris falls to his knees beside her in seeming relief, he finally answers the call from his public defender that he had been dodging all night (again, speaking to the irony of him ignoring substantive communication). The news? It was his fed-up XBOX buddy who had framed him, not Riley.
And so, Bad Match proves to be much more than a made-for-TV roast of the internet. Riley’s lifeless body becomes a metaphor of how being used can make you feel like you’re dying, and may even kill off a part of you that you can never get back. Goddamn, I wish I could @ people, but unlike my precious YouTube, Netflix doesn’t have that type of comment section
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