Delivers a shockingly strong ending.
by Bethany Rose
Viral media gets a whole new meaning in this of-the-moment horror film. The constant barrage of social media content and our dependence on creating online personas are critiqued in a unique way, and the implications of what this dependence causes leaves viewers with a clever twist on another ubiquitous theme: zombies.
The film instantly connects itself to the theme of social media. As the opening credits roll, two happy-go-lucky teens, Julia and Tara, are shown at the beginning of their vlog. What starts as a fun chat about their newest mall purchases quickly turns to terror, as Tara leaves the room and comes back feeling angry and confused. Julia tries to console her, but Tara’s anger comes to a breaking point, leaving the viewers of the vlog to watch a brutal murder. Meanwhile, Sam is also having a horrible day. Her boyfriend, Dan, purposely misinterprets her hesitant tone during their video chat as a plea for a breakup. Within seconds of the relationship’s end, Sam notices Dan has changed his relationship on his SOCIAL REDROOM account to “Single,” prompting Sam to delete her account. To make matters worse, Sam is stuck at school on New Year’s Eve because she failed her Criminology final, but the gruesome murder scene slideshow of the professor’s lecture is too much for Sam to take.
In an attempt to turn her New Year’s Eve into a less painful day, she agrees to attend a friend’s party. When she arrives, each partygoer is introduced to the viewer via a montage of their most recent SOCIAL REDROOM activity. What seems like a typical pre-party gathering soon turns to terror, as news reports suggest a wave of violence is inexplicably trending. But it isn’t until Steve and his girlfriend Kaitlin are attacked by an intruder that the group realize the threat is real.
Antisocial‘s greatest strength and weakness are tied together. The film’s critique of social media is a timely theme for a horror film. Much like the recent influx of found-footage films suggests a fascination with self, Antisocial takes the fascination to a new level, suggesting that we are trapped in a never-ending spiral of egoism and self-absorption because of our need to be an interesting and prevalent presence in social media. When Sam arrives at the party, she is introduced to Kaitlin. Kaitlin clearly loves social media, as she takes a snapshot of the group and instantly posts it to her REDROOM page. When she discovers Sam doesn’t have a REDROOM account, she is baffled, asking Sam how she is able to keep in touch with friends.
As the news reports first filter in, it is revealed that many of that day’s murders were connected to cyberbullying. While this point serves to further the critique of social media, it also marks the film’s biggest flaw. Just as the inundation of social media references were beginning to level out, the film became increasingly didactic. Instead of setting up questions that go unanswered, Antisocial spends a lot of time answering every question, very specifically. It loses some of the tension and intrigue when it insults the audience’s intelligence and ability to create their own interpretations. Subtext is quickly brought to the surface and explained, resulting in a middle act that feels too much like a lecture on the dangers of the Internet.
But the final act of the film makes up for much of the sententious second act. As the outbreak of zombie-like violence increases, a possible cure is discovered and the film’s remaining characters are faced with a new dilemma. Should advice from the Internet, the place that started this horrific outbreak in the first place, be taken as safe? After this new turn in the narrative, the film picks itself back up and delivers a shockingly strong ending. It finally allows the audience to create an interpretation of its final moments, creating an ending that is fulfilling for two types of audiences: Those who want a scary movie with a scary ending, and those who want a scary movie with a thought-provoking ending that is just waiting to be analyzed.