A Million Hits
As more of our time shifts from the outside world to the online world, it makes perfect sense for movies to pay closer attention to that realm. Prime Video’s A Million Hits looks at the place where cyberbullying and school yard bullying intersect, and how each can affect those around the periphery of the drama.
A Million Hits (originally known as Scene Queen) starts with a video of a young girl being brutally beaten by her classmates. The video goes viral, which catches the attention of the high school administration. When the girls are called into the principal’s office, anyone can see that Amy (Kate St. Clair) is clearly the victim and Ashley (Tess Cline) the violent bully, but there’s nothing the school can do beyond an in-school suspension if Amy is unwilling to point a finger.
With the inclusion of the internet and various social media sites, Ashley’s bullying is far more involved and multidimensional that just being a brute. Through a montage of previously posted videos, we can see that she and Amy were once close friends, but that friendship took a dark turn. It’s clear to us that Ashley has always been a manipulative narcissist, and it’s understandable why her money and popularity would draw in other young women like Amy. Bullies and their victims are certainly well-covered territory in high school movies. Adding the medium of video diaries helps keep A Million Hits visually interesting.
Where the film truly shines is its look at the other girls in their clique, particularly Jess (Monica Perez). At first, she appears to be a disciple of Ashley and fully aligned with her tormenting of Amy. But as the film progresses and the focus shifts to Jess, it gets very interesting. We start to see how not only social power in school functions around the sphere of popularity, but also how class and personal factors impact those power dynamics. Jess could have been labeled a bystander, but being the group’s chosen videographer and documentarian of Ashley’s attacks on Amy, she’s put into a position where her decisions can have a big impact. Much of today’s dialogue regarding bullying now encompasses the other people at the school and what their roles should be when they witness these behaviors, and A Million Hits is one of the first movies I’ve seen to acknowledge the implications of that discussion.
Unfortunately, A Million Hits suffers from a few weak acting performances that are distracting. These are localized to certain supporting roles, and don’t quite interrupt the flow of the movie, but they’re glaring at times. However, a few of Amy’s video diaries showcase how amazingly talented Kate St. Clair is, given that she can handle such raw emotion in such a controlled manner.
In a year where we’re celebrating Eighth Grade with such fanfare, it’s interesting to see other filmmakers, like director Janet Harvey, take on the ways that youth today interact with the physical world and the virtual world alike. (That makes me sound old, doesn’t it?)