It’s somewhat ironic that while I was watching an online screener of the techno-thriller Antisocial that I accidentally managed to turn my computer off about an hour and ten minutes into the film. It’s something that given the nature of the film’s stance against technology could elicit some chuckles. What was less funny was that it took me a full hour after turning my computer back on to even remember that I had started watching a movie in the first place. So I watched the movie again (start to finish in a single sitting, like the good, due diligence movie watcher I am) and I was just as bored with the finished product as I was during the initial aborted viewing. It’s a drab, lifeless, done to death, and cheaply produced pseudo-zombie film that’s more interested in hitting stock horror movie beats than doing anything all that exciting or thrilling.
Samantha (Michelle Mylett) is a struggling student (as evidenced by her actually being in an inexplicable class for extra help on New Year’s Eve) that’s recently been dumped on her boyfriend and is harbouring a personal secret. She deletes her account on social networking sit TheSocialRedRoom.com out of exhaustion and meets up with some buddies for a low key New Year’s Eve. Things go from bad to worse, however, when an unexplainable plague that’s linked somehow to cyber bulling begins to take over the world around them. The friends (all of whom are uninteresting and interchangeable despite the cast’s best efforts) barricade themselves in the house, but eventually the infection starts spreading between all of them… because the internet.
It’s largely one of those “single house setting” horror movies designed to keep the cost down and flip a simple genre effort that most filmmakers use as a stepping stone to larger projects in the future, and everything about Cody Calahan’s debut feature is as rudimentary as it gets. It’s drab, grey looking, set to a vaguely dubstep score, and featuring elements of recent horror successes like 28 Days Later, Cabin Fever, Pulse, and Diary of the Dead, but without anything that made those films thrilling. The action and scares never register here, and feel like arbitrary foregone conclusions rather than anything that had any sort of build up.
Calahan does rightly include within his stock story a meaty enough subtextual hook, and the idea that the negativity of the internet could be harbouring something a lot more sinister and evil is one that seems promising. The problem is that the film is just so devoid of ambition (and not in a fun, over the top, homage to past cinema sort of way) that it feels like a chore to sit through. When humanity is breaking down and people start turning on each other, the worst thing to feel is complete apathy. I would rather be feeling the rage or negativity, or better yet, like I was having a good time. Antisocial is about as straight ahead as a 404 error page and about as entertaining.