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10 Films That Feel Like They Actually Understand the Internet

Fall (2022)
Image Credit: Signature Entertainment

The world isn’t what it was when some of the greatest cinematic masterpieces were released. As entertaining as they are to watch, perhaps as a form of escapism from modernity, they don’t reflect the current trappings of modern society.

While many films attempt to capture the essence of the online realm, only a select few genuinely grasp its nuances and intricacies. These ten films stand out from the rest as they delve into the depths of cyberspace, exploring themes of identity, social media, the dark corners of the web, and how the internet has fundamentally transformed society.

1. Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)

Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Image Credit: A24

Amid a raging hurricane, a gathering of young adults is trapped in a secluded mansion. What begins as a seemingly harmless party game quickly turns sinister when a lifeless body is discovered, plunging the group into a web of suspicion and deceit. With trust shattered and hidden agendas lurking beneath their friendly facades, they must navigate a treacherous maze of fake friendships to unmask the elusive killer.

As tensions rise and secrets unravel, survival becomes the ultimate game in this twisted tale of betrayal and intrigue. Set against a compelling horror plot, the film is a satirical take on chronically-online culture. It gets its message across without feeling lecture-y or out of touch. One viewer describes it as capturing “the chronically online Twitter speak without being cringy nor patronizing. Such a funny film.”

2. The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network (2010)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing France.

“I’ve always been impressed with how prescient The Social Network was on many of the issues with social media,” says an online movie buff who’s a fan of the film. The Social Network tells the story of Facebook’s inception, focusing on the turbulent journey of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

While some of the events in the film are fictionalized, it captures the ambitious nature of Zuckerber’gs idea and how it can be weaponized by users’ primal instincts (like Zuckerberg’s FaceMash, which rated girls on campus based on their hotness). It captures the joys and dangers of the internet by showcasing the transformative power of a social networking platform while highlighting the ethical dilemmas, privacy concerns, and the potential for betrayal that can arise in the digital realm.

The film ends with Zuckerberg repeatedly refreshing the Facebook page of his ex-girlfriend, eagerly awaiting her acceptance of his friend request. A scene like this perfectly encapsulates what social media is all about an instinctual need for connection, acceptance, and community.

3. Eighth Grade (2018)

Eighth Grade (2018)
Image Credit: A24

Eighth Grade follows the life of Kayla, a shy and awkward teenager navigating her final days of middle school. The film showcases how social media platforms and online interactions shape the coming-of-age experience.

It explores the joys of finding a sense of belonging online, the pressures of maintaining a curated digital persona, and the dangers of cyberbullying and online harassment—something previous generations didn’t have to deal with. By realistically portraying the insecurities and vulnerabilities of a young girl in the digital age, the movie resonates with audiences who have experienced the internet’s impact on adolescent growth.

4. Pulse (2001)

Pulse (2001)
Image Credit: Toho Co., Ltd.

Pulse, a Japanese horror film, delves into the haunting side of the internet. It explores the dangers of isolation and loneliness in the digital era. The movie perfectly captures the essence of the internet by depicting an evil supernatural force that spreads through technology, preying on the vulnerabilities of those seeking human connection online. It serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the dark side of the internet and the potential psychological toll it can take on individuals who become entangled in its web.

5. Scream 4 (2011)

Scream 4 (2011)
Image Credit: Dimension Films

Scream 4 is a horror film that cleverly incorporates the internet into its narrative. The movie captures online culture by exploring the viral nature of information dissemination and how it impacts the characters’ lives. It portrays the dangers of online gossip, disinformation, and the quest for virality. By intertwining the internet with the classic slasher genre, the film reflects how technology has influenced contemporary horror narratives.

The Scream franchise has built a self-aware “meta culture” brand that defies expectations. By revealing the killer to be someone so close to home and driven by a hunger for fame and legacy, it feels much more in tune with the relevant horrors this generation is facing. “Scream 4 is a prescient look into the future of influencer culture,” says one film fan.

6. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)
Image Credit: Utopia

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is an indie drama that dives into the blurred lines between reality and the internet. The film follows a teenager who immerses themselves in an online role-playing game called “The World’s Fair.” By exploring themes of identity, community, and the allure of escapism, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair captures fears of  being “too online.” The movie highlights the joys of finding a sense of belonging while also questioning the potential dangers of losing touch with reality and the potential for exploitation in immersive online experiences.

7. Unfriended (2014)

Unfriended (2014)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Unfriended takes place entirely on a computer screen, immersing viewers in the characters’ online interactions. The film explores the dangers of online anonymity, cyberbullying, and the consequences of past actions resurfacing online. It provides an intense and suspenseful portrayal of how the internet can amplify existing tensions and secrets within social circles, highlighting the potential for betrayal and unforeseen consequences in the digital age.

8. Fall (2022)

Fall (2022)
Image Credit: Signature Entertainment

In a quest to conquer their fears and embrace adventure, inseparable companions Becky and Hunter embark on a daring mission. Scaling the daunting heights of a desolate, abandoned radio tower, they soon discover their triumphant ascent has a dangerous consequence – they are stranded at the pinnacle with no viable means of descent.

With their expertise in climbing pushed to its limits, they must summon every ounce of strength and resourcefulness to endure the unforgiving elements, dwindling supplies, and the daunting challenge of vertigo-inducing heights. While conquering grief, finding courage in the face of fears, and resilience in the face of betrayal are at the forefront of the film, the characters are motivated by two vastly different things.

Becky reluctantly agrees to do the climb to get back in touch with her passion for climbing after tragically losing the love of her life in a climbing accident. Her choice to climb the tower asserts her agency and willingness to be happy again. On the other hand, Shiloh is driven by her need for notoriety. She has a large online following and thrives off the attention her daring escapades and admitted self-sexualization bring her. She’s willing to risk her life to bring in the views and is more concerned with capturing the right angle on her vlog than staying alive.

9. Perfect Blue (1997)

Perfect Blue (1997)
Image Credit: Netflix

Perfect Blue is an animated psychological thriller that blurs the lines between reality and the online world. It follows a former pop idol entangled in a twisted web of obsession and stalking. The movie captures the essence of the internet by exploring themes of identity, privacy, and the blurring of boundaries between the virtual and the real world. It examines the dangers of online personas, how anonymity can be exploited, and how the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurry. Perfect Blue presents a chilling portrayal of the internet’s potential to erode one’s sense of self and the psychological toll it can take on individuals who navigate its harrowing landscapes.

10. Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome (1983)
Image Credit: Criterion,

Videodrome is a cult classic that takes on the dark underbelly of media and technology. While not explicitly focused on the internet, the film is a prophetic exploration of the digital age’s influence on society.

By exploring the seductive allure of sensationalized content, the blurring of reality and fiction, and the potential for technology to shape and control our perceptions, this online cautionary tale pre-social media is ahead of its time. Videodrome raises questions about the dangers of media consumption, the loss of personal agency, and the power of the internet to manipulate and distort our understanding of the world.


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Written by Jaimee Marshall

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