rating: 2The ubiquity of technology in our lives has been taken to task in countless Hollywood movies over the last decade, and rarely is it done with so little finesse as in Cody Calahan's dispiriting techno-thriller, about a New Year's party which turns into a fight for survival when a zombie epidemic perpetrated by technology erupts. The film's woefully dated commentary on modern technology - namely the irony of how antisocial our social networking endeavours make us - is obvious, even childish, as are its black-and-white riffs on the nastier side of the web, namely cyberbullying. Here a construct called The Social Redroom acts as a surrogate for Facebook, and much like our own world, something doesn't seem to actually happen unless it's dispassionately documented online. However, this commentary soon gives way to what has the makings of a generic zombie invasion, before the film mutates into a bizarre horror flick where the technology is literally fighting back against humanity, with tentacle-like objects crawling out of phones to turn the victims into raving lunatics. By the time the movie makes a misguided attempt to explain itself somewhat scientifically, it's safe to say that it has well and truly gone too far. Simply, this unconvincing techno-horror is too self-serious to be entertaining, but also too silly to be taken seriously. Though Michelle Mylett is a luminous central presence, Antisocial is too drawn-out and its message too familiar and unsophisticated.
rating: 2.5Juan Carlos Medina's striking debut feature is clearly influenced by Guillermo del Toro's visions of war's impact on fragile young minds (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth), taking place on the eve of the Spanish Civil War in 1931, where a group of children who cannot feel physical pain are holed up inside a hospital in order to learn what physical suffering actually is (both for themselves and for the safety of others around them). However, these experiments have far darker consequences than anyone could have expected. Medina's deliberate, methodically paced film does a fine job building palpable tension in its first half, holding its cards desperately close to its chest for most of the runtime. It's undeniable a fascinating idea for a film, one which ties the past effortlessly into the present - as Dr. David Martel (lex Brendemühl) finds himself struggling to contend with the nature of his birth, which is inextricably linked to the hospital - though also one that begins to lose steam as act three abounds, and it can't quite muster the same level of intrigue in the final stretch. The finale, through its resolute silliness, drains the pic of much of its emotional resonance, for what begins as compelling and enigmatic eventually loses its way to a more familiar horror film scenario. Evocative cinematography and decent performances keep it watchable, but little else.