I’d written Antisocial off from the very beginning. A predictable plot line, horrendous acting, mediocre cinematography, poor soundediting – It had the makings of a truly magnificent pile of crap. Then I hit the 35-minute mark. Antisocial is an exhausted premise with a tired and clumsy twist. However, it packs some interesting punches, managing to escape being a complete waste of time. Ultimately, it’s a mediocre film with a heart of gold.
After Samantha (Michelle Mylett) is unceremoniously dumped on a public video chat, she slinks away to a New Year’s Eve party with some friends. Licking her wounds, she deletes her account on the social media platform responsible for her humiliation, TheSocialRedRoom.com. Once the party gets started, so does the mayhem, as news breaks of a series of violent crimes and deaths related to cyber bullying. Progressively, it becomes clear that some kind of cyber disease is spreading, turning people into crazed zombies. The group barricades themselves in their home, hoping that should keep the infection at bay. It doesn’t.
The message is clear, and it’s old, boring, and predictable. Social media and social networking sites are bad. They turn our brains to mush, isolate us more than they connect us, and are facilitating the propagation of a society of self-absorbed, self-indulgent, mindless, egomaniacal teenagers and twenty-somethings. We get it.
Though the premise in general is old hat, there are some little tricks up writer Chad Archibald and director Cody Calahan’s sleeves. For instance, the virus itself is an interestingly developed concept. The mode of infection, and the virus as hive mind, are equally as intriguing. Unfortunately for Archibald and Calahan, though it was a solid effort, the realization didn’t quite hit the high notes it should have. What was an impressive attempt to add depth and serious social commentary to an otherwise simple indie horror flick wound up unfortunately convoluted and clumsy. The end result was poorly realized, and didn’t quite deliver.
The acting is horrendous across the board. There’s simply no way around this. Michelle Mylett, Cody Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, and Romaine Waite are all equally as terrible as one another. Overwrought, and melodramatic, each performance felt like it’d fallen out of Acting for Dummies. Mylett, the hapless heroine, and Alic, the ditsy blonde sexpot, act as if it were paint by numbers, lacking any kind of conviction or real force. Both female characters are whiny, dependent, damsels in #FirstWorldProblems distress, and it’s insufferable.
The cinematography for the first 30 minutes of the film comes off as a high school photography project. Moody close-ups, shots of under saturated brick walls, and melting snow all look like an angsty teenager’s portfolio for OCAD. Once the chaos starts to reign, however, things get a bit more interesting. The hallucinatory representation of the virus is admittedly very well shot. It lends an interesting surreal air to the film, probably its only saving grace.
Ultimately, Antisocial is a disappointment. With some fun scares, and an attempt at an interesting premise, it trips over its own ambition. As an independent foray it’s impressive, but it simply bites off more than it can chew, and gave too many chances to an undeserving cast.
Antisocial is playing now at Carlton Cinema.