Considering Social Media has played a massive role in our lives for the past decade, it’s about time that a horror film was made to highlight the evils that can manifest from such an attention-stealing phenomenon. It’s unfortunate, then, when a film that touches upon such a crucial topic, turns out to be so superficial. The film in question? Cody Callahan’s Antisocial.
Fantasia audiences lined up in excitement for the movie’s premiere, considering it was writer/producer Chad Archibald’s third film here. His past Fantasia stunners include Monster Brawl and Neverlost, so stakes were high at the J.A. De Seve theatre.
When Sam (Michelle Mylett) breaks up with her boyfriend, she grows a sharp distaste for social media, or in this case The Social Redroom (the film’s Facebook equivalent). Upon arrival at her friend’s New Year’s Eve party, it’s learned that she’s not the only one whom the site is making sick.
While writers Callahan and Archibald definitely harness a unique allegory—the internet as the killer itself—what they fail to realize is how highly derivative both the characters and the narrative structure of their film are. In fact, at times it seems their One Missed Call meets The Faculty feature isn’t exactly sure what it wants to be, other than a pop-culture hybrid with a modern spin.
An example is a scene where the character Mark (Cody Thompson) refuses to let his friend Chad (Ry Barret) back inside the house because he appears to be infected. “Let me in, please!” Chad cries. This exact scene, nearly take for take, can be found in Robert Rodriguez’ The Faculty, when Stan (Shawn Hatosy) is locked outside of the school. Similar scenes can be found in the likes of Cabin Fever, Scream 4, and none other than Evil Dead. In fact, the same tentacles exhibited by The Faculty‘s aliens appear in Antisocial as well, when Steve (Romaine Waite) glances at his phone and becomes infected (bewildering how those tentacles become wires in his brain).
Posse-member Jed (Adam Christie) finds a link to a potential cure: cue the DVD insert to Sci-Fi for dummies—a video where a surgeon instructs viewers to perform at-home brain surgery by drilling a hole into their amygdala (too bad all shots of incisions are avoided with jump cuts). Easy! Sam demolishes her forehead and finds the wire within a mere 20 seconds, her porcelain face remaining intact.
While the film may attempt a “modern spin,” it certainly plays up the same archetypes we have seen thousands of times before, lacking any semblance of innovation. Who dies first? Well, the black man and the bombshell of course! Sam, the foreboding final girl is left to fend for herself (although I’m pretty sure Sidney Prescott never whined “I can’t do this alone!”).
Unfortunately the performances in Antisocial did not reach the heights of some of its predecessors. Michelle Mylett drew out her vowels like an L.A. princess, and her modelesque figure appeared as though she couldn’t swat a fly without breaking a finger (certainly no Angelina or Uma). We are supposed to believe that Sam and Mark have had some long standing chemistry, but this is impossible to decipher behind eyes that shed less emotion than Ghostface. Looks like the true zombies in this film are the protagonists themselves.
Sometimes handsome visuals and a mere fusion of society’s current technology aren’t enough to convince an audience, especially when all bases aren’t loaded. Perhaps next time character development and scene structure will both have a higher profile.
~ By Olivia Saperstein