06th Oct2015

Grimmfest 2015: ‘Antisocial 2′ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Michelle Mylett, Stephen Bogaert, Josette Halpert, Samuel Faraci, Jake Michaels, Kassandra Santos, Kristina Nicoll | Written by Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan, Jeff Maher | Directed by Cody Calahan

antisocial-2-poster

Years after having her newborn child stolen from her, Sam searches a world infested with infected users from the Social Redroom website. After befriending a young girl named Bean, Sam is captured and locked in a facility dedicated to finding a cure for the Redroom virus. Trapped and tortured, Sam tries to escape the facility before an impending update on the Redroom site hits 100% and unleashed its final phase of attack…

Despite the open(ish) ending of the first Antisocial, when this sequel was announced I did wonder in just what direction Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan and the Black Fawn Films crew would take the film. After all, the original film was a one location, claustrophic horror flick that – I thought – had a finite story. Once Sam’s tale was told and the Social Redroom was revealed for what it truly was, I was sure that the Antisocial series had nowhere to go but rehash the same plot over and over, perhaps with a new set of characters and a new location, but essentially the same story.

How wrong could I have been.

Antisocial 2 takes the idea hinted at during the closing moments of the first movie and amplifies them tenfold. Antisocial and its rage-virus inducing “villain” the Social Redroom is no longer a small-scale, instead the story has grown. Grown into its own apocalyptic nightmare of a global proportions, with humanity now the minority and the Social Redroom counting down to… something. It’s never fully explained what the “update” to the site will accomplish beyond connecting everyone, including those that have never, and will never, log on. Does that mean humanity has ended? Are we all now mindless, rage-filled “zombies” working at the behest of the Redroom? Or will there still be a small glimmer of hope left in those now deemed as defects (those infected who have removed the viral tumour through trepanation). That question, I’m sure, will be answered in the hinted at three-quel, making this franchise – hopefully – a definitive horror trilogy for the millenial generation.

THIS is what George Romero’s Land of the Dead should have been. A vision of a world ravaged by monsters intent on wiping out humanity, with only a small group of survivors trying to keep humanity alive; and in this particular case, keeping the Social Redroom from connecting everyone. Antisocial 2 does the epic “end of days” story on a more human scale, remaining intimate yet feeling completely grandiose.

Speaking of sequels, the idea posited at the end of Antisocial 2, that those connected by the Redroom can live out lives and memories “online”, is an intruiging one: if Antisocial was national, Antisocial 2 is international; and so, through the idea of an inter-connected world full of people all joined in one hive-mind by the Social Redroom, any third movie could really take its tale global. Who knew, back when I watched the first movie, that this franchise could possibly become the horror equivalent of the Mad Max trilogy – complete with the same badass hero taking things into their own hands leading the charge of humanity when all seems lost…

For that’s what Sam is. She’s that same lone hero, the voice of sanity in an increasingly insane world. All she wants to do is survive. At least at first. But after her son is literally ripped from here, Sam’s quest becomes, like the film itself, much bigger. And like Max Rockatansky, Sam’s life is put through the ringer. But then, if history has taught us anything, when you’re the saviour of mankind you kind of have to go through some truly biblical trials. Thankfully Michelle Mylett really steps up to the plate and gives everything she has to the role of Sam – you really feel every inch of her pain and suffering, every moment of sadness, Mylett lays it all on the line in a raw, visceral, performance.

Mylett is not the only shining light in the cast of Antisocial 2, the kids in this movie are too. In particular Josette Halpert, who plays Bean – the daughter of the scientist trying to stop the Redroom update by any means – is, frankly, superb. Despite a relatively short screen time she manages to not only make an impact on the story but also the audience. Bean is the lone voice of reason at times, and at others she’s the resourceful sidekick. But ultimately Bean, thanks to Halpert’s fantastic take on being a lonely teenager, with the same wants and needs – especially the need to feeled loved, something she’s missing from her father (a madman-like military “scientist” in search of the end of the Redroom update) – is the emotional core of the film. And like Sam a small spark of true humanity in a world that is losing that which makes us who we are – be it by infection or by sheer desperation.

On a side note, there’s a ridiculous sense of irony to the Bean’s father and his team trying to stop the Redroom update. It seems even when social media is essentially going to kill everyone on the planet, they’re still obsessed with the site and can’t leave it alone – much like some people in real life who should probably stay off the likes of Twitter and Facebook for their own sanity!

Antisocial 2 has only made me more excited to see further adventures in this Canadian-created universe; and hopefully, given the cliffhanger ending, that’s what we’ll get. Roll on part three I say.

***** 5/5

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