Social media sites are a great way to connect with friends and family and to exchange ideas and share experiences, but they also open the door to creepers, identity theft, moreover, an utter lack of privacy. But what if a site like Facebook – or, in Antisocial‘s case, the “Social Redroom” – played host to something far more sinister, something almost Cronenbergian that spreads quickly through society, unleashing a nasty level of violence and mayhem.
It’s a nifty notion, sadly, Antisocial – from Canadian filmmaker Cody Calahan – fails to follow through all the way on the idea and give the film its own identity. Instead, it clumsily meanders through a narrative that lifts generously from works like Pulse, The Signal, 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever and the Stephen King novel “Cell.”
There’s nothing less interesting than watching characters watch or interact with other characters on a computer and Antisocial has plenty of this as it follows a group of friends gathering at a house for a New Year’s Eve party. Society is crumbling outside, however, thanks to a social networking site called the “Social Redroom.” Users begins to suffer nosebleeds and hallucinations before they turn violent. It’s a global phenomenon (as a map likes to show us – but how does this impact those deepest parts of the world without the Internet? is my question) and Antisocial‘s protagonists are left to watch the drama unfold via Internet news feeds and home videos. As they do so, their house is often attacked by the infected until symptoms of this “virus” are felt within the group.
Antisocial‘s characters are a rather vapid lot with no real personalities to separate them (the script calls for a tired story device to get us on our main protagonist’s side). And it doesn’t help that they don’t have much to do as paranoia begins to take hold. They run through the usual dramatic cycle we’ve seen in so many other films before and the thematic thread between social life and social media is lost to monotony. So, the story plods along and bodies begin to drop – against the backdrop of a repetative, unrelenting score, I should add – until you have no choice but to “unfriend” the movie altogether (sorry, I had to pull out that out). Again, good idea, but the execution is lacking.