27th Jul2013

‘Antisocial’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Michelle Mylett, Cody Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, Romaine Waite | Written by Cody Calahan, Chad Archibald | Directed by Cody Calahan

antisocial-bloody

It’s often been said that people today wander about the streets in a zombie-like state – with their faces buried in their phones texting their friends, tweeting and checking out who likes what on Facebook – oblivious to the outside world. But what if this reliance on technology, and social networks in particular, became societies downfall? What if the thing we shared online was more than just information? That’s the question posed by Antisocial.

Sitting somewhere between Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies and The Social Network, Antisocial sees five university friends gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. What they don’t know is the end really is nigh, as an epidemic has erupted outside and around the world. With nowhere else to turn, they barricade themselves indoors with only their iPhones, Blackberrys, laptops, iPads and other personal devices, using them to research the possible cause of this outbreak. As the virus spreads, the mood in the house changes from fear to paranoia. Information and video footage overflow their computers as they descend further into the cause and the ensuing chaos. Who is safe? Who can they trust? Reality becomes blurred as they slowly discover the source of the virus causing the sickness and realise not even they are safe…

The idea of technology interacting malevolently with humans is nothing new in the movies – it’s been used in the likes of 1977′s Demon Seed, Poltergeist (1982), Pulse (1988), and more recently in the likes of Ringu and it’s American remake The Ring, the South Korean movie Phone, and the killer video game flick Stay Alive (2006). Yet Antisocial is, as far as I know, the first to posit the idea that our always-connected, ever reliance on social media will actually be what eventually kills us all. Of course we’ve already had films such as Panic Button, which saw someone use social media and all the information it holds on us, to get revenge – but this film takes this one step further as computer code turns into a real-world biological virus! And it’s fair to say Antisocial couldn’t be more timely.

With Facebook still leading the pack as one of the most-visited websites in the Western world and cyber-bullying becoming a hot topic in the media across the globe, the idea that social media is “evil” – especially in the eyes of those that don’t use or understand it – is growing and as such it’s a theme that is ripe for exploration in horror.

Thankfully Antisocial gets it right.

Starting as it means to go on, with a dramatic webcam-captured murder, the film builds from what starts out as a typical “teens-in-peril” flick to a freakish body-horror – complete with trepanning and strange arterial growths that look like they could have stepped out of an 80s Cronenbergian horror. All of this is wrapped around a stunning performance from first-timer Michelle Mylett as Sam, whose path from timid teen to final girl is a joy to watch; and her final scenes – as she walks the streets, axe in hand, to take on the reanimated virus infected dead – just made me itch for a sequel. Bring on “Sam the Zombie Slayer” I say!

I’ve said it before, and no doubt I’ll say it again but, even with the smallest of budgets, it seems Canada can produce great horror – no matter the subject – and this is yet another example of a Canadian horror that hits all the right notes. From the great cast, to the inspired techno score (from another first-timer, Steph Copeland), to some superb stylistic camera choices which seamlessly blends webcam footage, news reel and traditional filming techniques, I loved every minute of Antisocial.

Antisocial receives its world premiere at Fantasia Fest in Montreal on July 31st before screening at London’s Frightfest on August 23rd.

**** 5/5

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  • Nerdly » Frightfest 2013: ‘Discopath’ Review says:

    [...] I’ve said it many times before and I’ve not doubt I’ll say it many times again, but Canadians know how to make damn good horror flicks and guess what? They also know how to do great retro-grindhouse flicks too! Yes Discopath, the tale of a man turned to murder by the beat, is another fantastic genre flick from the land that brought us He Knows You’re Alone, My Bloody Valentine and the more recent Antisocial. [...]