In a technology-obsessed age, there are a lot of ways to explore the inherent horror in how our world has changed around the apps, services, and platforms that have shifted how we communicate with one another. But while a show like Black Mirror prefers to dig deep into the heart of what these things mean for our future society, the work of L.A.-based filmmaker Alex J. Mann tends to be–how should we put it–a bit more visceral. As in, his exploration of the use of emojis is about a woman who is literally stabbed to death by emojis.
That’s the premise behind “Wink,” Mann’s latest short, which is the sort of Halloween slasher lark that utilizes its three-minute runtime well enough to deliver on the gag contained within, and which would definitely be too long at 3:01. It stars a young woman who, while texting a friend, finds that her emojis have disappeared from her phone–and then the noises start. What follows is silly fun built around the changing expressions of the little yellow face that secretly wants us all dead. Mann’s Space Oddity Films has explored the horror of similar things in the past. He’s made films about Snapchat, G-Chat, and Instagram, but “Wink” is a sillier treatment of a sillier communication trend–definitely more “winky face” than “angry face” or “sad face”–that reveals what lurks behind that big yellow smile.