Alone in her attic bedroom, teenager Casey becomes immersed in an online role-playing horror game, wherein she begins to document the changes that may or may not be happening to her.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair stars Anna Cobb as Casey and Michael J Rogers as JLB. The film was written and directed Jane Schoenbrun and initially had its world premiere at Sundance and its UK premiere at Grimmfest. The score was written and performed by Alex G and is director Schoebrun’s debut feature film.
This review is going to be a little shorter than what I usually write and that is due to the fact that saying too much about the film would be doing it a disservice. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is a many levelled, multi-faceted film that tackles a number of issues through a unique and pretty modern lens. For almost the film’s entirety, we are privy to a back and forth between our protagonist, Casey, and our pseudo-antagonist, JLB. The film is mostly a series of social media interactions between the two parties; interactions that often leave us questioning how much of what is happening is real or imagined, and who is really playing games with whom. It’s a conundrum of a film that often leaves you uncomfortable, but not always for the reasons you may think.
The themes tackled include teenage angst and perhaps a slice of coming-of-age in an age that is almost always online. There is an uneasy subtheme of online grooming and perhaps predatory behaviour, though this is never really confirmed or denied. Then there are also the elements of self-harm, isolation and the addictive nature of social media trends and the safety thereof. The film very smartly uses what one would currently call a Tik-Tok challenge or something closely akin as the basis for its horror story—The World’s Fair challenge.
It is not a traditional horror in any sense of the word and has that “you decide” feeling that always leaves me a little unsatisfied—I like conviction in my horror titles and when directors confidently convey their ideas, even if they are nonsensical or unbelievable. This is Bloody Mary meets Tik-Tok meets a need for attention, and although a clever concept and a well-forged film, it is the uncertainty and doubt that I was left feeling once it was all said and done.
I do have to take my hat off to Cobb though, whose performance is absolutely stellar as the unhinged and attention-seeking Casey. She is a brightly burning star and is absolutely entrancing and believable in her role. She holds the film together with a convincing coolness and I really hope that she gets some other projects after this as her performance blew me away.
In closing, this is one of those films that teeters on the edge of horror/not horror but would have a hard time fitting in anywhere else. It’s cerebral and simple, smart and scary and you’re either going to love it or hate it depending on what you were expecting going in. I fell somewhere in the middle—not loving the uncertainty of it all but loving the performances. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. We’re All Going to The World’s Fair will be released in cinemas nationwide from April 29 and on Digital Download and limited-edition Blu-ray from May 9. Trailer and official artwork are below.
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