‘From Under the Bridge: When Bullies Become Trolls’ is a bullying, cyber-bullying and suicide awareness film based on a true story. This review gives my thoughts on the film and doesn’t go into detail on suicide, but if you are struggling with the topics the film presents, please ask for help. It’s the reason this film has been made.
Growing up, this sort of film was shown in schools and at similar places to raise awareness of what bullying others can do. As young people, we’re impressionable, we follow what we think is cool, and can often be the cruellest people. It’s crazy to think that children and young people often don’t think of others, only what will stop them from getting hurt too. This short film is so real and so important to have been made and shown, to continue the message that bullying is wrong. Often the people who do the worst things to others have had awful things done to them, but that doesn’t excuse their behaviour. FUTB:WBBT amplifies victim’s voices, tells us that we shouldn’t stand by, and always ask for help.
The film shows us ‘Yesterday’, setting up the story and allowing us to see into Clare’s life. Things aren’t great: school is the worst, she’s lost a parent and is being catfished online although she doesn’t realise. The soundtrack is brilliant at showing us the changing emotions of Clare, using bubbly romantic tracks, and then fading them out to help us as an audience see the truth. It’s so clever how different elements of the overall filmmaking are used to help us get into the head of each character. Being a short, it can often be hard to accomplish a lot in a small time window, but FUTB:WBBT doesn’t need waffle, it can focus on all the main story points. The audience are presented something cinematic through the look and the sound but focusing on the important plot points allows us to explore each character and the world they are in without taking a long time.
We then skip to ‘Today’. All nightmares begin to come true, for all characters. Bullying isn’t excused, but we can begin to understand why people make the choices they do. Written and directed by Paul James Houghton, like I’ve mentioned, we dive straight into the real world and Paul does a fantastic job in exploring a large topic in a short amount of time. I love his choice to give each character a backstory and purpose, again building upon this world we are in and giving us the twists and turns that we crave in a story like this, but keeping us down to Earth, acknowledging that this story is based on a truth. I gasped out loud at the twist, my brain ticking away throughout the film to figure out who would be the secret troll. Our words and actions really can have the biggest consequences.
The short stars Piper Reese as Clare, a young girl who just wants a break in life. Her performance is raw and heart shattering. Even though Clare is a character, she’s bought to life by all those watching it, seeing themselves in her worry or in the people they may have been mean to. Piper stays strong in her acting, really reminding us that this story is real and has happened to so many people. Each acting performance is on the same level, showing us that even if we keep a good face, things can be bad under the surface.
I’d really recommend watching this short film, and admire what it stands for. It may not be suitable for all ages with its graphic nature at the end, but its message is important and needed. It’s unfortunate films like this are needed for bullies to see how their actions dreadfully harm others, but Paul and team have done a fantastic job in executing each element of it.