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Welcome to the Enclave (2023)

-Written by Michelle Vorob


Welcome to the Enclave is a short film by Sarah Lasley that explores how easily things can get out-of-hand on social media and the impact that can have on real people.

Filmed in a game engine, Welcome to the Enclave takes place entirely in the virtual realm. Two women (played by the same actress, Brenna Palughi) looking to sell real estate, take to Twitch and Reddit to give virtual tours of the homes and tips on mindful living. Well-meaning and excited about this new neighborhood, the women are unaware of the Internet Troll Hell about to befall them.

What's interesting about this film is how completely believable it is. People have such arrogance and confidence in their online anonymity that others’ health and well-being is dismissed. Vitriol abounds. We know that online harassment is a major downside [and danger] to occupying online space and that it creeps into places we least expect. Such is the predicament faced in Welcome to the Enclave.

No reasonable person expects a realtor giving virtual tours and a wellness guide giving mindfulness tips would encounter rampant trolling, would they? No reasonable person would expect this trolling to advance into virtual vandalism, essentially virtual destruction of a new and peaceful place, would they?

Now, I'm not going to explore misogyny in this review, but certainly, there is a level of harassment these women face in the message board comments [and graffiti] that is unique to the experience of being a woman. As much as online harassment knows no race or gender, it targets all, in more than one way and we know in these modern, online times, Hate crimes thrive on anonymity. 

That's not to say the harassment is officially Hate crime; it really, overall, seems to be generic online trolling that gets completely out-of-hand and while occasionally hilarious to me as a viewer, it was also painfully obvious that the relentless and destructive nature of it began to seriously affect these women psychologically and could seriously affect them financially. After all, this was a real estate venture, wasn't it?

What begins as a virtual tour of a beautiful home in an idyllic neighborhood devolves into something out of a dystopian societal collapse. The trolling has a snowball effect, each hacker trying to outdo the other. The issues raised by Welcome to the Enclave are pertinent ones; who are we, as a global society? Are we naive to think we're safe in an online space, when we know to beware in real world spaces? Are you safe at work? A woman giving a home tour or a yoga class in the real world can face very real danger. Danger that comes to her. She doesn't go looking for it, she simply can't avoid it. Maybe it is partly misogyny.

Welcome to the Enclave ends with a bit of a nervous breakdown, and a great cover of Carly Simon's “Coming Around Again” by Lasley herself. 

Directed by Sarah Lasley.

Written by Sarah Lasley and Brenna Palughi. 

Starring Brenna Palughi.



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