In her new short about an online troll, director Anu Valia presents an unsettling view of internet connectedness. The callous young woman in the titular role, known virtually as SushiHat, is bored with life if not constantly judging others on social media. Her cruel comments (“nice gunt”) or incessant frowny face emojis splattered across photo albums seem to come as natural to her as breathing. But the thing is, there are real people on the other end of those digital transmissions. Connected somehow is a teenage boy in a hospital bed clinging to life in a coma. His mentor, an aging indie rocker, waits outside the room, distraught. When he comes into contact with SushiHat, who claims to be visiting her grandfather in the connecting room, they spark up a conversation. It becomes a game of withholding information but slowly we learn about the the boy in the coma and his mentor/music teacher. None of it paints a pretty picture. There’s a similar darkness at the heart of Valia’s 2015 short film “Drifters," but with “Troll” she doubles down, offering a searing indictment on the state of online anonymity and cruelty. -KA.
Directed by Anu Valia. Written By Will Janowitz and Hari Leigh. Produced By Rachel Nederveld and Hari Leigh. DP Lowell A. Meyer. CAST: Hari Leigh, Will Janowitz.