Studio: Breaking Glass Pictures
Director: Cody Calahan
Writer: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan
Producer: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan
Stars: Michelle Mylett, Cody Ray Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, Romaine Waite, Ry Barrett
A worldwide outbreak of mass hysteria and murder is linked to the use of a popular social networking website.
It might be interesting to see how movies like “Antisocial” fare in years ahead. One problem with hinging a thriller on current social media trends is that any technology depicted will age faster than the film can stay relevant. Just ask “976-EVIL.”
The 1990’s and 2000’s in particular birthed multiple horror films permanently rooted to a release year by their setups, some more than others. “Strangeland” dates itself with a text-only IM chat used to lure Captain Howdy’s victims. “Feardotcom” and “Cellular” are entire concepts tethered to era-specific trends in media usage. Go further back and contemporary audiences have to stifle chuckles as Officer Graham paces around noisy operator switchboards while physically tracing the pivotal phone call of 1974’s “Black Christmas.”
“Psycho” has close to the same effect on modern viewers as it did in 1960 thanks to a timeless story that still holds up under fresh eyes. “Antisocial” also has a timeless plot, but its Facebook-centric theme is unlikely to see longevity read in its tealeaves, even if it is timely today.
“Antisocial” has a perfectly positioned soapbox to preach the dangers of a technology-obsessed society conditioned to watch their own lives through a cell phone camera lens. This is a film set during a time when it is widely accepted behavior to carry on two distracted conversations at once, one of which is via typed text on a mobile device in the palm of a hand. But instead of capitalizing on clever social commentary, “Antisocial” turns out to be another zombie invasion rehash wearing a slightly trendier skin.
“The Social Redroom,” which is this movie’s surrogate Facebook, has figuratively infected the lives of everyone in the world to such a degree that the sickness turns literal, mutating addicted users into bloodthirsty savages. Initially intended to instill a desire to post more pictures and connect online more often, a subliminal program gone haywire is a slick explanation for the global outbreak. It is also the full extent to which the social networking premise of the film applies.
The media tech catalyst for this pandemic, which is what should set “Antisocial” apart as unique in the genre, is woefully underutilized. Overuse of Facebook is interchangeable with any other explanation for an undead uprising. Replace the online addiction with a reality television obsession, consumption of a particular food, poison cloud, or plain old contaminated drinking water and nothing about the script or its delivery would change.
With its key hook relegated to a nearly negligible supporting role, “Antisocial” exposes itself as a routine apocalypse fantasy, and not a memorable one at that. Regurgitating pieces of other horror films is acceptable when done with personalized style, a wink, or a hat tip. When all of those previous movies have done it better, simply reheating leftovers just leaves a bland taste in the mouth.
As the half dozen university students barricading themselves against the madness outside begin exhibiting symptoms, they pointlessly cycle through the pat rigmarole of trying to convince everyone that they are fine. In response to infection signs shown by own friend, his disbelieving buddy stupidly asks, “how do we know it’s the same thing…?” “I’m not sick” and “I’m ok” come from the mouths of others characters in denial. “Antisocial” has a chance to emulate the psychological hysteria of “The Crazies” but it is comfortable in the skin of a scaled down “28 Days Later” with straightforward slasher flavor.
The best part of the movie is an effective score by Steph Copeland that can be nitpicked for standing out too much. “Antisocial” is a one-house horror and slow played scenes are made more conspicuous by silence in need of Copeland’s musical push to infuse some much needed dread. The disappointing thing about her soundtrack, however, is that it ends on a sour note with a melody too closely echoing the “Hello Zepp” theme from “Saw.”
Playing tamely with an isolated tale, “Antisocial” would never be asked to come in off the bench when superior living dead heavyweights are already on the field. “Antisocial” misses the very opportunity it creates for itself by choosing to bite weakly as typical Armageddon terror instead of fiercely as savvy social media satire.
Review Score: 45