Description (from the press materials):
Five university friends gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. Unbeknownst to them, an epidemic has erupted outside, causing outbreaks around the world. With nowhere else to turn, they barricade themselves indoors with only their phones, laptops, and other tech devices. They use their devices to research the possible cause of this outbreak. Information and video footage over flow their computers as they descend further into the cause and the ensuing chaos. As the virus spreads, the mood in the house changes from fear to paranoia. Who is safe? Who can they trust? Reality becomes blurred as they slowly discover that the cause of the virus is more terrifying than they could ever imagine…
For Sale Version Includes:
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette, Director’s Commentary
When I first saw the art for ANTISOCIAL from Breaking Glass pictures, I have to admit: I wasn’t looking forward to seeing this movie. The press poster (which is the DVD cover) is a chick with an axe, covered in blood. I immediately though “not another cheesy hot chick zombie movie.” Don’t misunderstand me: I have no problem with hot chicks, nor do I mind zombie movies, I’ve just gotten to the point that it feels really… played out. Old. Cliché. The same ol’ same ol’, and I’ve seen that movie so many times. Reading the description on the back of the press materials (above, if you’re wondering) didn’t give me too much hope either that ANTISOCIAL was going to be anything other than the average hack’n’slash hot-chicks-in-peril zombie movie that the art led me to believe. What gave me just a little glimmer of hope was the quote from the Fantasia International Film Festival printed on front: “A… next-generation horror satire with an absolutely genius hook.” Zombie films have been, since Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD at least, a great medium for the satiric, so these ten words made me think that maybe, just maybe, ANTISOCIAL was not the formulaic genre bloat that I was fearing it to be.
As the story starts I was welcome to find that the filmmakers were taking the time to build a little drama, a little character. We have Sam, an apparent criminal science major in college, who is working late on New Year’s Eve, and has something important to tell her boyfriend. With a little acting prowess, we all know exactly what that is that Sam needs to tell him, be dense jerk there automatically thinks it’s the same thing he’s thinking: time to break up. So they do – via VIDEO CHAT (man the world sucks nowadays) – and immediately his relationship status is changing on The Social Redroom (aka Fake Facebook). I was pleased to see that there was a little bit of character build up, a little bit of dramatic backstory (without a ton of exposition, so kudos to you writers) before we jump into the eventual reality of “the infected” that we all know is coming from that cover art. Sam goes to a NYE party with a few friends (ingeniously introduced through their Social Redroom profiles, as this will be a big plot point throughout the movie), and then all hell breaks loose. I don’t want to give away the twists and turns (and I’m happy to say that ANTISOCIAL has a few and they weren’t all broadcast super plain and obvious twenty minutes before they occur, which is always nice), so if you want the rest of the story you’re gonna have to watch it.
There are a lot of things to like about ANTISOCIAL, but the biggest “pro” it has going for it is the plot/story/script in general. The plot starts off pretty formulaic, pretty nonchalant, but by about the end of the first act (as the shit starts to hit the fan), you realize that this really is not your average hot-chicks-in-peril zombie movie. Sure, there are a few hot chicks in peril, but that fact that there are no boobies anywhere should clue you in to the fact that this is not the point of ANTISOCIAL. The satire in this movie is not way over the top, it is not super-duper blatant (like, for example, WHITE MAN’S BURDEN, remember that one?), but there is a definite social point being made in the movie, and when it comes out, it is wholly satisfying. There’s nothing too amazing about the dialogue – there’s nothing you’ll be quoting with your friends at the bar this weekend – but it feels natural overall and it gets the job done. The strength with ANTISOCIAL is truly just the story itself.
Along with the story, the acting is strong overall. When you make a movie that really consists of just a few characters, and most of those characters share the screen time essentially equitably (Sam is the main character, yes, bust most everyone else is a close second… until they die), everyone has to pull their weight. And everyone in ANTISOCIAL pretty much does. I especially was impressed by the fact that not only did the leads – the students trapped on the house – put in a solid performance, but even the secondary characters, like Brian whom we only ever see via Skype or something similar, pull their weight. Along with the acting, the production design is also a bit higher than the standard that I was expecting from the cover art. ANTISOCIAL is decidedly un-gory for a zombie movie… sure, there’s some red stuff here and there, and there are certainly some cringe-worthy moments (the eyes! why the eyes!!!), but the gore is mostly restrained, and in good measure. This is, at least for me, a really GOOD thing. Sure, there are going to be a lot of people out there that love zombie movies that are going to watch ANTISOCIAL and say that its “wussy” or whatever, but this is a movie that is focusing more on the psychological horror than the physical, and that is much more effective. I was impressed with the unobtrusive CGi as well; there is some computer created mayhem here, but it is few and far between and when it does show up and it is used with utmost aplomb and for very good measure.
There are of course downsides to ANTISOCIAL as well. The video quality was not as great as I would hope, and I do not know if this is from the fact that this is a screener copy I received (it was in fake letterbox, so my screen had a big black box going around what could have been 16:9 glory) or if this is from the original film itself. I have seen that there is a Blu-Ray version of ANTISOCIAL available (at least in Australia I think I saw on their Facebook), so I assume it was shot HD, and I have to guess that this defect comes from the fact that this was a screener. Nevertheless, the image quality on the copy I watched was a bit murky and blurry and never very “filmic” at all, it all looked very digital. There were a few bits about the characters and the plot that were a bit underwhelming as well (again, don’t want to go into specifics to not give away the twists, but there were some bits that left me groaning). The average horror movie buff that is looking for a bloody zombie movie is going to be über-unimpressed too when they see an extremely extended almost-strip scene… that never actually reveals any boobs; as I said before I understand that this isn’t that average movie, but that was almost just teasing the audience that was expect as much, especially that early on in the film, and may jade a viewer or two. Lastly, but not leastly (not a word I know but I like how it flowed), did we really need to set it up for a sequel? I for one am really tired of every horror movie having to become a franchise, and not being able to just stand on its own as a good, SINGULAR horror film.
Overall, ANTISOCIAL has a lot of great surprises. There are nice revelations throughout the plot, there are nice twists in the characters, there are just little things you are really not expecting (like the live streaming girl… you’ll have to watch to see what I’m talking about) that add a lot more gravitas to what could be a regular old zombie flick. There is also that great addition of the satire, in a direction I hadn’t really seen, which makes this a more intellectual pursuit than your average gut-muncher. Plus, there are nice super-creepy bits, like the CGi and a few other gems you’ll discover when you watch it. There is not a whole lot of blood for a zombie movie, but what’s there is done well, and I think the film is stronger as a whole for what isn’t. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen, it’s not even the best zombie film I’ve ever seen, but it’s a very solid film in the Breaking Glass catalogue and highly recommended.
Overall 7.5 / 10
ANTISOCIAL on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2772092/
ANTISOCIAL for sale (as of 1/28/2014): http://bgpics.com/index.php/template-styles/new-releases/item/232-antisocial