Joan is glad to see her daughter Lily make a new friend at her new school, Violet. But she soon realizes Lily and Violet’s friendship is taking a toll on her daughter and that there’s more to Violet than meets the eye. “Bad Influence” makes you scratch your head about what’s happening in the film, only to end it on the most clichéd note. Right from the beginning of the film, Violet (Kayleigh Shikanai) and Derek (Ehren Kassam) behave in a way as if they have some kind of sinister intent toward our apparent protagonist, Lily (Devin Cecchetto). Interestingly, the Internet summary of the film is provided from the mother’s perspective, while the film itself doesn’t really have any kind of perspective. It is just a set of events followed by a rather disturbing and cliché revelation.
There are multiple events in the films that don’t make sense. Firstly, the attraction shared by Violet and Derek towards Lily is without any motive. Furthermore, the intimate scenes seemed nothing more than a way to just take the story ahead and try and hold on to the viewer’s attention while doing so. Neither of these are seemingly connected to the Zenith, or even if they were, we wouldn’t know it because we have no idea about the Zenith itself. When there is a book that, pretty much, is the main force of the story, you expect to know at least something about it. “Bad Influence” completely ignores this point. The only things we learn about it are in the form of quotes from Violet. Neither do we know anything about the book nor about its author, Dante Leclerc. So, there goes the only motivation that could have been.
Secondly, the characters (a group of friends) in “Bad Influence” are all bland. We have no idea about them or why they even joined the group, especially Derek. We do not understand where to place his character because, at one point, it seems that he is close to Violet, at some point, he seems to be completely into the Zenith philosophy, and then at some point, he is trying to make Lily understand that what Violet is doing is wrong. Even Violet, who is one of the main characters, is given no motive for her behavior. All that we know is that she is an ardent follower of Zenith. We do not know why she went after the girl who misbehaved with Lily or their professor. And more than anything else, we have no idea why she fell for Lily. The only impression of her that a viewer will probably get is that she is irritating, especially in the way she nods her head for 3 to 4 seconds every time she says something that she believes is the truth. Guess from where the truth comes… Zenith.
“Bad Influence” should fall under the suspense and thriller genres, but it just doesn’t fit in either of these. There is a kind of incompleteness to the whole plot that will probably make a viewer regret watching the film. It is rather tragic that the film isn’t able to do justice to a potentially good plot. The book and Violet were both interesting, but not giving them a proper past is what makes “Bad Influence” a lost cause.
But we have to hand it to “Bad Influence” for trying to show the change in Lily’s behavior after she meets Violet. Although we do not know anything about her, her influence on Lily is understandable. Also, the moment of revelation at the end that it was Derek and not Joan with Lily, who Violet was about to push to death, does come as a surprise. But this only gave rise to the expectation that we would finally find out what’s up with her and the book Zenith. But all that we get is a mentally unstable Violet, who is taken into custody. The ending was naturally predictable, with Lily sitting with others in the facility and still going on repeating sentences from the Zenith.
“Bad Influence” is nothing more than its title. All that we get in the film is Violet’s wrong influence on Lily, and that’s it. There were many possible plot points worth exploring, but they weren’t touched upon. Overall, watch it or skip it; “Bad Influence” will not influence you either way.
“Bad Influence” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Adam Rockoff.