‘The Social Media Massacre’ web series now anthologized
Ron Purtee is a man who wears many hats, including host and interviewer, stand-up comedian, writer, and director. And while much can be said of his body of work, today I’m singling out Purtee’s web series, The Social Media Massacre, which is now online as a seamless anthology.
In 2010, nestled deep in the cheese-laden landscape of the American Midwest—Racine, Wis., to be exact—TSMM first hit the web with a short now referred to in the series as “A Hollywood Ending.” Simply Called The Social Media Massacre at the time, it appeared the piece would be a one-off short. But Purtee would think better of that, and turn the concept into a serial whose journey would take cast and crew halfway through 2012 before the last episode was launched.
As the name of the series would imply, each installment is somehow linked to the common element of social media— fertile ground for horrific storytelling. Working with limited means in terms of equipment and experience, a web series was a wise choice of venue for the endeavor. Despite its limitations, TSMM proved to be an effective showcase of Purtee’s writing ability, some decent acting, and a few nice makeup effects.
Will all five episodes now anthologized into a single Youtube video, viewers can take in the full series with one click. Purtee, however, has put a new twist on things by changing the ordering of the episodes, which was an excellent choice that results in an appropriate bookending of the series.
In its new form, TSMM begins with “From the Heart,” starring Shaun McGregor and Nikki Farce as a particularly disturbing match made in hell. Their tale, and the series itself, culminate in the fifth episode, “From the Womb,” which wove Farce’s real-life pregnancy into a twisted vision of how far two human beings will go to keep their sick romance kindled. Farce (Incest Death Squad 2, Ghost Humpers) has a sort of Lilli Taylor-type, natural sensibility on camera, which could prove quite useful should her acting career take a turn toward other genres.
“To Say Goodbye,” notably filmed in one continuous shot, matches voice-over with live action, aptly pulled off by the remarkably-talented Valerie Meachum (Witchfinder), whose character’s story is essentially revealed through social media updates and internal monologue.
“A Hollywood Ending,” now placed in the middle of the series, is one of the better shorts, at least in terms of commercial marketability, which Purtee undoubtedly smirked about as he penned its new moniker. This story unfolds through a succession of posts by a vlogger, Sam (Charlie Bussian), whose job working from home has exacerbated his social interaction challenges, particularly with the opposite sex.
“I’m Streaming Death” features two of the finest actresses I’ve had the pleasure of working with on film sets—Heather Dorff (Hand of Glory) and TCW’s own Kelsey Zukowski (Bacon) , who were later reunited in What They Say, directed by Justin R. Romine. Suffice it to say, they deliver what we’ve come to expect from them here. They are both bright, rising stars of indie horror, although their acting ability can carry them much further, given a chance.
Purtee, who never went to film school, undoubtedly learned much about the craft through trial and error during the two years of producing TSMM. He has a natural aptitude for storytelling, and he continues to hone his filmmaking skills, which has been evident in subsequent work. I certainly look forward to seeing more from him in the future. For all things Ron, visit ronpurtee.com.
By Stuart Wahlin, a/k/a The Reelist