You know, revoke my movie cred, because I hated every single moment of this movie and I’ve seen some respectable people fawn all over this movie and maybe the version on HBO Max is not the one you’ve all seen. Am I too old? Did I not grow up on Twitch? Could I have missed the idea of gender dysphoria through body horror even though I desperately hoped this movie would give me an insight into that?
Casey (Anna Cobb) lives alone with her widowed father and spends all day and night on the web, trying out online challenges like, well, the World’s Fair Challenge in which you have to say, “I want to go to the World’s Fair,” three times on camera before cutting yourself. She keeps watching videos where people turn into plastic — they claim — or losing touch with reality.
Michael J. Rogers — who was great in Beyond the Black Rainbow — is the best part of this movie. I mean that as a compliment even if it’s petty theft. He’s a middle-aged man who may or may not have guided others through the challenge. He worries that the forces behind the World’s Fair are taking over her and that she needs to keep sending him videos, like the one where she smears paint all over herself and tears a doll to shreds or when she sings and then starts screaming.
Cobb definitely has a future in acting as she is either able to lose herself in the character or that’s just her. And director and writer Jane Schoenbrun had a really solid idea here. But this movie just drones on and on and never seems to find anything, even at the end when the older man claims that he met Casey years later.
There’s a lot of talent that’s all kind of wasted in a modern take on found footage that meanders and loses its way and actually never has it. This is no different than watching any number of streams online or reading about creepypasta. I really wanted to walk away from this movie but then I thought about how weak every Iron Man Joe Bob Mutant Fam person was complaining about how hard Things was to make it through and I’ve watched Things more than twice. So I steadied myself and kept this going, hoping and praying for something, anything to move me. And nope.
So please: tell me what this was about and why it moved you so much. I have the feeling that — I hate even typing these words — movie Twitter has the need to validate itself by rallying around movies that feel like they have some level of ascetic meaning. It’s like being in a club and saying things like, “This movie really goes for it” and it’s just all generic garbage spewing forth from your keys. You are the people who say “sell me on this movie” or wait for others to give their blessing to something instead of having the courage of your own conviction.
Movies should make you feel something and not just joy when the final credits roll. I never need to see or think about this again other than on my deathbed contemplate the minutes that I wasted on this and I could have forced my wife to watch something better. Now I don’t get to pick a movie for forever.
PS: Fuck ASMR.