We all spend too much time navel gazing with our phones in our palms, hooked up to social media, failing to maintain human relationships… blah de blah blah. That’s the message in this week’s movie choice, anyway.
This week was my pick. I’d read people’s tweets about this Canadian horror film and thought it sounded good, despite the below average ratings on both Netflix and IMDB. Sometimes you find some right bangers by ignoring the naysayers and going with your gut.
Was I right to go with the stomach? Well read on, my friends! Read on.
As per: *Beware them pesky spoilers!*
IMDB Synopsis: 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.
The films starts with two fashion bloggers recording a vlog into the camera. As the opening credits roll, a bloody scene plays out before us, as one of the girls appears crazed and attacks the other. It’s a fight to the death as the victim fends her off. What’s going on there then, eh?
(I, for one, would totally accept this as an alternative to all the perfection of the top vloggers, call me ungracious).
We then move on to Sam who’s at uni and has just broken up with her horrible boyfriend. Sadly, he’s more into doing his own thing than speaking to Sam about whatever it is she clearly has on her mind and the two go their separate ways via video chat. Within seconds, he’s updated himself to ‘Single’ on social media site, the Social Redroom, the little shit.
Sam hastily removes herself from the Redroom to avoid the usual online bullshit and wanders about looking sad for a bit. In a lecture, people clearly have way too much time on their hands, as they’re gossiping and laughing about the break up behind her back. Sam agrees reluctantly to go to a NYE pre-party at her friend Mark’s house to take her mind off things.
Meanwhile, something odd is happening on campus…
Sam’s a bit of a cold fish when she gets to Mark’s but the crowd gathered there do their best to welcome her. Things are going swimmingly until Jed (who isn’t on the Social Redroom, key point for later) stumbles across a news item about a violent attack at their campus. They don’t really think too much about it until later in the evening, when a random breaks in and is accidentally killed by Steve (Romaine Waite).
Well, that’s what you get when you burst in on sexy time, Random Stranger. Unfortunately, Steve is rather distressed to have caused a murder and tries to ring the po-po to own up. 911, however, is playing a recorded message due to being overwhelmed by calls, so the gang can’t report the accident.
This also alerts them to the fact that shit be cray out there, so they turn on the TV and their laptops and phones, and gather more intel on a new disease taking hold of everyone around them, not just locally either. Things are getting serious, yo.
Once they’ve grasped the full gravity of their situation, the group seal themselves into the apartment (pretty sure they forgot the upstairs window the first intruder tried to get through though, just sayin’). They have to be strict about keeping infected people out so when their close friend Chad comes calling, bleeding and disorientated, they have to leave him outside to fend for himself.
Fair enough though. The group are torn on this decision but believe as long as they can wait it out together free of infection, they’ll be fine. God bless them. No sooner do they come to this conclusion, weird shit begins to happen. First off, are the hallucinations. Tentacles appear from mobile handsets, down people’s throats, in their eye sockets, all curiously around the same time as being online, specifically logged into the Social Redroom. Hmm.
Then come the nosebleeds which mark the beginning of the end. Finally, the uncontrollable and ultra-violent rage, egged on by mysterious figures and whispered voices. One by one our friends succumb to the symptoms and it ain’t pretty.
While this is all kicking off, Jed maintains contact with his friend Brian (Eitan Shalmon), who’s trapped on campus and therefore reporting things as he sees them in the ‘outside world’. It seems he’s having an even worse time than our Party of Five.
You see? This is why I never make plans on New Year’s Eve.
Jed is our gateway to all info as he follows the story, showing our friends everything he can find about it online. Including the surviving fashion vlogger who is amazingly still logged in and asking for help. The friends message her and she explains more about the story but is in a bad way, infected like her friend has been. Eventually I think her head explodes.
Our friends lose their shit bit by bit and don’t come off well, as the infected are killed off. Even more curiously, the survivors learn that after death, the deceased can still post to the Redroom, straight from their deceased brains.
Jed finds a video made by one of the Social Redroom execs, who confesses that they’d deliberately planted a virus into the program to pull people further into it, making them want to post more pictures, write passive aggressive status updates (probably) and annoy each other with games requests (to paraphrase).
He apologises deeply for the infection which was all their fault and then he guides those who haven’t shown symptons to a link that could possible save their lives. Meanwhile, the founder of the Redroom (poor man’s Zuckerberg) has been assassinated by a crazed individual.
The link shows how to remove the tumours causing the infection from the brain, by drilling into the frontal lobe and pulling it out (tentacles!). Sadly, by this point Sam has been pulled back into the Redroom by Mark (who she now professes to love) and has the tumour too.
I’m going to stop here because I’ve gone on way too long and you can see what happens at the end for yourself.
But of course, before I wrap up, to the Questions: Who will survive? What is Sam’s big secret? Will she and Mark live happily ever after? What will become of both Jed and Brian?
Is being permanently logged in such a bad thing? And, finally, have you even got to the end of this review without picking up your phone to check Facebook?
Much like Starry Eyes, this film was trying to make a point and I appreciate that. I like a horror film that attempts an original take on something we have seen a lot of before. I mean, the infected and the living dead are tales as old as time but the social media angle is still topical, still relevant and therefore, still interesting. To me anyway, being a massive social media WHOREBAG.
The performances are good. I liked Jed (a Canadian Nick Grimshaw) and Sam isn’t simpering as the lone surviving female (oops, spoiler). She does get to wear a white tee too, the lone surviving female uniform (see Eliza Dushku in Wrong Turn (2003)) when she goes out to kick infected butt, so you know she’s serious.
NB: I’ve just learned coincidentally, and just now so I promise it hasn’t influenced this review at all, that Michelle
Mylett is the bestie of one of my close friends. How cool is that?
All in all, I enjoyed myself. Could of done with more horror moments (I wasn’t scared) and I like my horrors on the jumpier side if possible. But I liked it.
Does it make you think about your own overuse of social media though? I suppose so, Facebook does sometimes feel like a mild disease I wish I could cure. Then I realise that it’s probably half the people I still follow, who shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard that I could do without (those damn Minion memes, man).
Will I ever quit (aka cut out the tumour?). Probably not.
My Rating: 3/5