Published Dec 23, 2013Watching the opening shots of Antisocial follow its lead character (Michelle Mylett) wander outside Hart House at the University of Toronto, you might be tempted to think the film is winking to another Canadian horror, Black Christmas (1974). You might also think the story about a zombie-like virus spread through social media is paying homage to Bruce McDonald's underrated Pontypool. The messy third act's abundance of self-surgery and general mutilation could even be a tribute to the early body horror films of David Cronenberg.
It's all a little hard to tell just what Antisocial is trying to accomplish because it never holds its focus long enough to give any substantial clues. The film shows promise in the beginning, with a brooding tone that suits the grey Toronto winter, followed by a slick montage that introduces the ensemble of characters via their online profiles. The kinetic editing and swagger of this sequence does a lot to combat the Canadian pacing — you know, the slow pace that feels overly cautious of losing the audience or too democratic to the on-screen characters and plagues too many of our films — but that energy is quickly depleted.
Despite the youthful savvy that they show early on, director Cody Calahan and his co-writer Chad Archibald keep their characters locked inside their doomed New Year's Eve party as a mysterious plague infects their neighbours, essentially letting the logic of '80s slasher movies that Scream parodied 18 years ago infect the film itself: mostly, why don't the characters just leave?
One of the few original ideas lurking in the shadows comes late in the third act, from the mouth of a minor character, no less: the virus infecting the characters is actually connecting them all to each other. But the movie never makes more of this concept, instead championing a sense of individuality that obviously eludes it. (Breakthrough Entertainment)