Antisocial is a film that is probably best served to the viewer by going in blind. It’s not necessarily a bad film at all, just one that won't stick around in your head for any period of time after you've watched it. Its b-movie qualities are there for all to see; bad acting, corny dialogue and and limited special effects, but Antisocial does have a few things going for it in director Cody Calahan’s feature debut.
The plot has been done before, commenting on society’s use of technology and how our dependance on social media and large corporations telling us what to do have effectively made people more insular and ironically less socially active. Technology plays the real villain here, the film shows us a world where subliminal messaging in social networks and the like can take a step too far and become the thing that could one day all but end the human race.
As five college friends attempt to bring in the New Year, an epidemic of unknown origins is spreading outside which leads to widespread panic and violence. At first, our cast of late teen/early twenties students are seemingly unaware of the events occurring outside as they party the night away. However, events soon take a sinister turn and the students soon find themselves fighting off the threat from outside, as well as the threat that lurks within.
The cast is mostly fine here, with some performing better than others, while a few seem to struggle with even the most basic lines. Michelle Mylett takes the lead as Sam, a college student who has recently been dumped by her boyfriend on an online social networking site and who seems happy to sulk in a dark and brooding manner. Mylett’s Sam is clearly built up as the hero of the piece, but she unfortunately suffers from a style of acting that can only be described as wooden. Clearly her character develops as the film progresses, and in all fairness get a nice moment towards the end, but Sam lacks real depth and instead of feeling sympathy toward her we just feel like she is somewhat of a moaner.
The rest of the cast vary in degrees of quality, Cody Ray Thompson as Mark and Adam Christie as Jed perhaps fare the best as the film develops. Mark tries in vain to keep events under control as everyone else around him either panics or dies, or dies panicking. Jed cleverly figures out what is going on outside after keeping in touch with one of his other college friends via a video chat link. This video chat, and the occasional views from the news channels are our only chance to see what is happening outside of the students home.
Where the film does succeed is in creating a good level of creepiness for the viewer, and also in its commentary on social networks and our dependence on technology in our day to day lives. For its limited budget, Antisocial pulls off a few neat tricks too, and has enough blood and gore on show to appease the more hardcore horror films, while those who prefer suspense and jumps in their horror shouldn’t be disappointed either.
The decision to use social media as the main villain of the film was a smart one too, and while some of the techniques executed in showing this are a little flawed, it is nonetheless a clever metaphor for people’s use of sites such as Twitter and Facebook and how the things we say and do on these sites really do affect our real lives.
Director Cody Calahan is clearly a horror fan and would be a name to keep an eye on for the future. He uses the limited budget well and produces some good scares along the way, even if one of them is ruined on the DVD’s title menu.
For a low budget film, the sound and picture quality are surprisingly good. I sometimes feel that these types of films can provide a grainy picture or a mumble like tone to proceedings, but Antisocial has a serviceable if never spectacular audio and visual quality that shouldn't bring up any issues for those viewing at home.
The extras on the disc are very run of the mill here. We have a theatrical trailer, a short (16 minute) making of, an audio commentary and a few trailers for the studios other offerings.
The making of is your usual talking heads feature, with the cast and creators all appearing to chat about how great everyone is and how well everyone got on while making the film. All of this is fine but provides no insight into the filmmaking process, operating a limited budget or getting an indie film promoted. The only fun part of this feature is seeing three of the actors appear on screen drenched in blood and then proceed to be interviewed about their roles and the film in general. The other features are the usual studio fluff and no real effort seems to have gone into them.
Antisocial is an interesting, if flawed film, which provides an interesting take on our daily use of social media, and one that manages to pull a few scares off along the way.