We're All Going to the World's Fair
This really is the best time of year. Obviously, I love Spooky Season, but there's so much more going on. I don't get the cooler weather or leaves changing color down here, but I still long for hoodie weather. On top of nature's beauty, the sports world is awesome. The NFL is in full swing, college football teams have already played the tomato can section of their schedules, we have playoff baseball, the NBA starts soon and it's the return of hockey! Yeah, this time of year rules. Anyways, let's talk about...
We're All Going to the World's Fair (2022)
If you pay attention to the news, or if you're chronically online, you no doubt have seen disturbing trends pop up, a lot of times on TikTok. They range from stupid; DIY vampire fangs, to dangerous; like the milk crate challenge (I still say I could make it up and down those crates,) and incredibly fucking stupid and dangerous; things like the Tide Pod challenge and the Blue Whale challenge where the final step is to kill yourself. This movie explores that.
A very isolated and lonely teenage girl decides to take on the "World's Fair Challenge." You start it by making a video of yourself, then drawing some blood on your finger. You're then supposed to make videos showing the changes because supposedly a demon possesses you or something and you start slowly losing control. It's a whole thriving community, kind of like the Creepy Pasta Reddit boards except everyone's in on the game there.
The girl, Casey, keeps recording more videos in her attic until someone with the name JLB reaches out to her telling her she's in danger. He sends her a video with her distorted face saying they need to talk. They eventually chat online and he says that he collaborates with other World's Fair challengers to help them through it. They talk via Skype but he never turns his camera on, instead, he has an avatar of a creepy smiling guy. He offers her warnings and help and tells her to keep making videos so he can monitor how she's doing. They chat, she makes videos and the longer it goes on, the more disturbing she gets.
That sounds like a pretty scary basis for a movie right? Well, it's not. It is mind-numbingly boring. I kinda hated it. It touches on some really interesting subject matter and could have been pretty good, but it's not. I think I would be a lot kinder to it if it wasn't billed as a horror movie. I honestly don't think they'd be able to get anyone to watch it unless they marketed it that way, but I hate when movies lie to me! It's an indie drama about loneliness and decidedly NOT horror. As a movie itself, it touches on themes that are relevant to our world and are pretty good. Casey is deeply depressed and is escaping into an online world because she doesn't have anyone else. Her father is never seen, and you only hear him once when he yells at her from downstairs to keep it down. He lost his wife and seems to take it out on Casey. She hates him and I'm guessing the feeling is mutual. JLB is also deeply lonely and escapes into the internet as well, playing along with people doing the challenge. He lives in a big house and it's hinted he has a family, but doesn't seem to show any interest in anything that's not his online bubble. He becomes worried once Casey takes it too far. She makes a video where she has her dad's rifle and talks about a murder-suicide.
Outside of being sold a bill of goods about this movie, it has every little "artsy" trick you can imagine a first-year film student would put in a movie. There are loooong stretches of time where nothing happens at all. Just Casey staring into her webcam. Then you get the awkward camera angles that add nothing and quick shots of things that, I don't know, are supposed to be disturbing. This movie is 86 minutes long and you feel every single one of them. They could have trimmed so much time just by cutting out the long shots of someone staring into a camera. Despite my best efforts, I dozed off multiple times because it couldn't keep my attention and it's an absolute slog.
I don't like being overly negative when it comes to movies, especially low-budget ones, but this movie has a 90% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes! It's wild the way they gush about it. The audience score is more accurate at 27%.
I grew up before Facebook and TikTok but I often wonder where I would have fit in in that world had I been more online as a teenager. Growing up, I was probably on AOL the most out of my family and I can see how the subject material in this movie can hit so close to home for many. We're detaching from society more and more every day while living behind our screens because real life is hard and sometimes it sucks. When you're online and anonymous. you can craft whatever kind of identity you want. Speaking of that, did I ever tell you how I dunked on Lebron James when I was in high school? He told me I should go pro. I said, "Hell no! Shit might mess up my game!"
The point I'm trying to get across is that the idea for this movie is good and could have made for a much better product than what we ended up with. I kinda liked the end when JLB is on camera and he's talking about how he met up with Casey a year after their falling out and they're both doing better now. I liked how you couldn't be sure if he's telling the truth, or if it's just another lie he's telling himself to avoid dealing with a possibly uncomfortable reality. I tend to think it's the latter. JLB gives off some pedophile vibes but I think he's just the type of super lonely guy that enjoys playing the role of the white knight because he's depressed and is desperate to find meaning. The movie has a lot of potential but it's just not any good and is incredibly boring.