It’s New Year’s Eve and student Sam (Michelle Mylett) has just been chucked by her asshole boyfriend via Facebook-style social networking site The Social Redroom. Up the duff and depressed, she’s cajoled by BFF Mark (Cody Ray Thompson) into attending the New Year’s Party he and his friends are throwing. As the celebrations begin, a worldwide orgy of violence erupts, a mysterious virus causing hallucinations and bleeding from the nose and ears before turning the infected victims into blood-crazed psychopaths.  

Barricading themselves indoors, Sam and her friends cut themselves off, relying on rolling TV news reports for information and on their laptops and phones to stay in touch with friends and to try and figure out just what is going on as the infected attack the house, trying to force their way inside. Terrified by the footage they find surfing the internet for answers; escalating violence, increasingly desperate victims, exorcisms and oddball conspiracy theories, the friends resolve to sit tight and wait for the epidemic to burn itself out. But as some of the friends start to show symptoms of the virus, the group is riven by paranoia and suspicion, forcing the pregnant Sam to take drastic action… 

Opening with footage of two perky teenage girls cheerfully offering shopping and styling tips on their vlog before one rabidly attacks the other out of the blue, low-budget Canadian horror flick Antisocial quickly establishes an atmosphere of almost matter-of-fact mounting dread as putting a zombie horror twist on The Social Network, our reliance on technology leading to humanity’s downfall as subliminal messages on Facebook turn us, literally, into zombies.  

It’s far from original, sharing DNA with every walking dead movie ever made not to mention George A. Romero’s The Crazies, Bruce McDonald’s wonderful Pontypool and the J-horror genre, but it is effective, co-writer/director Cody Calahan making the most of his limited resources to fashion an insidious vision of the apocalypse that comments on our desire for instant communication, our obsession with making public every detail of our lives, the inherent isolation of cyberspace.  The closer we get, the further away we are. Though you do kinda wonder why, once the students have identified the source of the infection, they keep surfing the internet and updating their Facebook, sorry, Social Redroom, status. 

Calahan’s characters may be the usual stereotypes; the good girl with a problem, the snarky geek, the tarty good-time girl, the solid, reliable heroic bestie who’s always loved the heroine, and the dialogue may be a little ripe, one panicky character hysterically yelling “911 isn’t supposed to have an answering machine!” as outside the world burns or when a spot of amateur trepanning seems to offer hope of a possible cure: “I’m not drilling a hole in your head, that’s insane!” the heroine reassuring “It’s ok, I’ll do you first.” But even if Calahan is recycling ideas from other films, they’re good ideas, the infected forming a literal social network as they unite in an almost utopian hive mind, everyone connected, sharing one consciousness that’s almost attractive, and, while most of the performances are pedestrian, lead actress Michelle Mylett makes an affecting, likeable heroine squaring up to unplanned pregnancy, zombie apocalypse and home brain surgery with the same fatalistic stoicism before going all final girl with a hatchet. 

Hugely derivative but ambitious, Antisocial is more than just a slice of Canadian bacon, Calahan’s visceral vision of the dangers of social networking a surprisingly effective little low-budget shocker. And you just know that Zuckerberg and his ilk have considered something similar.

VERDICT: [rating=3]

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