We’re All Going to the World’s Fair captures the essence of online culture. Hints of Eighth Grade, Nerve, and Unfriended are all combined to make an anxious 86 minutes. Despite its parallels to those few films, it’s a unique experience that channels your inner emotions. What is really lying deep inside the World Wide Web for us all?
As someone who grew up as a ‘child of the internet’, the anonymity that it provides gives you a sense of freedom from the outside world. You can be whoever you want to be. Your inner problems are put to rest slightly and you can live as someone else. Director Jane Schoenbrun knew exactly the feeling they wanted to portray on screen. It’s very dark, yet sophisticated. It’s also very intense. There is no denying this is a very personal project to Schoenbrun. Their direction leads us into a genuine confrontation with our own demons.
Anna Cobb’s feature-film debut deserves quite a bit of praise. Her long stares into the camera will give you chills. Every scene from Casey’s (Cobb) room is frightening. The glow-in-the-dark stars and moons on her bedroom ceiling — along with blue hues of light — are the only things that can be seen at certain times. You convince yourself you can see something else emerging from the darkness. But suddenly, Casey’s light is back on and she’s sitting in bed. Each conversation she has online proceeds to get more and more nerve-wracking. Where is the story going to take us? It’s a passage through an alternative reality in some sense. She’s losing grasp of her existence if just for a second to be someone else.
Sometimes curiosity is too overwhelming to not explore. One anonymous conversation online can open up a can of worms that cannot be controlled. Exploring the world around you, yourself, and your identity can be tricky. Dysphoria is a word that often comes into play in online culture. Many people who are unsatisfied with life take to creative coping mechanisms, hiding within a fantasy to ease their personal disarray. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is a delicate example of exploring dysphoria through webcam horror footage. It’s an uncomfortable character study that I’m glad Schoenbrun could bring to life. Modern filmmakers like Schoenbrun are leading the way for more studies like this to permeate the culture, and that’s exactly what we need.
For more information on We’re All Going to the World’s Fair and other films playing at the Fantasia Film Festival, check out their website.
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