You know when you see that there is a sequel to a movie out, and you only vaguely recall the first one, but you’re not sure why? This moment is often followed by a quick search on IMDb, followed then by a wave of “Oh, yeah….THAT one.” This sums up my experience with the original Antisocial.
For me, Antisocial had a lot of issues. I remember not being all that impressed when I saw it, for a variety of reasons I’ll get in to shortly.
But then something amazing happened. I watched Antisocial 2. And man, oh, man, have the tables ever turned.
Antisocial 2 starts off with a brief voiceover for those of you kids who missed the original. It is explained that subliminal messages placed on a facebook-like site called SocialRedRoom backfired and infected people with a virus that makes them go bonkers and kill people. While you could watch this sequel without the original and definitely understand it, I feel like being already invested in Sam’s character is a win going into this movie. Right off the bat, you see a very pregnant Sam (she was newly pregnant in the first one) stumbling into an abandoned high school. She is in labour, and she is wielding a FREAKING AXE. We are told right away – if you want to see a shrinking violet, you are watching the wrong horror movie.
Shortly after delivering her baby, he is stolen by a woman who then leaves her for dead. For years, she hunts for her son in an increasingly post-Apocalyptic landscape. While searching, it becomes clear that the world, over time, has divided itself into two groups – the Uninfected and the Defects. Defects are people who were infected and survived the self-inflicted brain surgery via power tools that appears to cure to virus (like our heroine, Sam). As she is hunting, she meets a young girl named Bean, also a Defect, who tells her about her father who is doing experiments at a military base in an attempt to find a cure. He has been using Bean to help with his experiments, as Defects have the ability to stave off the infection caused by viewing the SocialRedRoom site for a couple of minutes at a time. And did I mention that the clock is ticking to find a cure as the site has evolved and is working toward completing an update, which an infected informs them “will connect us all”?
So, yeah. There is a LOT going on in this movie. The question is, does it work?
The answer is HELL, YEAH!!!! The script is great and brilliantly balances all of these new pieces of information without losing sight of the rules established in the original. One issue I had with the first one is that I’m not really sure how subliminal messages became a physical virus. Not only a physical virus, but a virus that is large enough to see and remove that looks sort of wormlike. But, they stuck to their guns and it made for some really great visuals in the second one, including a scene in which the worm is passed mouth to mouth.
My biggest gripe with the first one is that I remember watching it and thinking that it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. It was well-acted, it had an impressive gore level, and the pacing was great. But it shied away from picking a side; one minute it was viral zombie apocalypse, the next it was technology is going to take over, and then it would switch to wanting to be a social commentary about how we communicate with each other as a society. Unfortunately, it never committed to a concept, which made it feel patchy to me.
Antisocial 2 cleared that up for me. This is definitely picking the Terminator side of the story and went for technology will overtake us. There is a lot of really interesting stuff to think about as it seems that the people who are infected have their consciousness essentially uploaded to the site, so that it exists independently of the bodies that are wreaking havoc and appear to be forming a hive mind. At this point, it’s gone too far to matter if it’s social commentary about social media; the damage is done, and this is where society has landed. And it is a rough landing.
Overall, this one was less bloody than the first, but had a solid story, and likable characters. I feel like knowing what follows after the first one would make the first installment more enjoyable for me. I will definitely be revisiting it. It has also clearly been left open for a third installment, which I will be watching for. A- for being a rare sequel to surpass the original and freshen up its own concept!
(And sidebar: as a HUGE Supernatural fan, the fact that two girls named Sam and Bean were driving around made me very happy. I don’t know if there is a writer out there who also loves it, or if it was a happy coincidence, but I loved it).