We’re All Going to the World’s Fair Review
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Jane Schoenbrun and starring Anna Cobb, Holly Anne Frink and Michael J Rogers.
If The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and Unfriended were stirred into a pot with a little personal flavor added to the ingredients by its mixer then, perhaps, you would have the chilling film, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. This new picture has stirred up quite a response from audiences and, after seeing the movie, I can admit there’s a lot to make a fuss about here. Lead actress Anna Cobb gives the most interesting performance I’ve ever seen in a horror film as it takes a lot of time to realize the talent behind the performer. One could easily write Cobb off as a mediocre actress at the beginning of the film but by the time the movie is half over, the audience is going to realize just how difficult this role she plays is and how successfully Cobb plays it.
This movie’s premise revolves around a “World’s Fair Challenge” which is something that is talked about online that certain people decide to engage in at their own risk. We’re introduced to a teenage girl named Casey (Cobb) who is confined to her attic for the majority of the film. Casey fearlessly takes on the aforementioned challenge. She takes a bloody finger to her computer screen to seal the deal.
A man called JLB (Michael J Rogers) is the other main character in the picture. When he communicates online with Casey, there is no picture displayed on the computer monitor but rather a skeleton-like face image with visible teeth and extremely dark eyes. JLB is revealed to be an older man who communicates with Casey throughout his house in all different places, including while sitting on the toilet bowl.
There are a couple of very memorable, intense scenes here which heighten the dramatic impact of the film. One comes when Casey is singing then begins to scream very distinctly during her online performance. This sequence shows the instability of her character and the sheer unpredictability of her actions. A gun is revealed at one point and the viewer automatically starts to question whether or not Casey is a danger to herself or others.
When a highly memorable explanation of Casey’s stuffed childhood toy, Poe, is given to the audience, there is a lot of uncertainty as to what is to follow. Casey’s actions soon become frightening and we see how her instability has begun to overcome her mental well-being. We won’t mention what happens to poor Poe. This scene, which is done quite uniquely, has odd lighting but is effectively and expertly executed.
Cobb’s performance is a true original. Like Heather Donahue (I know she changed her name in real life, but whatever) did in The Blair Witch Project, Cobb makes this character of Casey come alive with an intensity that is simply heart wrenching in its excesses. Both Donahue’s and Cobb’s characters in their respective movies are vividly drawn and Cobb reaches the heights Donahue did through the fierce vulnerability which is displayed on screen at all times. What makes Cobb’s work so unique is how the audience never knows what she has in store for herself as the movie progresses. She’s a loose cannon and we care about her yet somehow suspect that she could fly off her rocker at any given moment for the worse. And that she does. Kind of.
There are familiar aspects that are showcased in this new film. Scenes of Cobb sleeping are reminiscent of Paranormal Activity while the online interaction can remind one of Unfriended. It’s always good to have starting points for a story line to take flight and although those films clearly inspired the current picture, the new movie has a distinctness all its own.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair could have been truly terrifying with a different resolve but the writer/director, Jane Schoenbrun, takes the material in an odd direction. Although there are scary scenes throughout the movie, the picture’s ending is ultimately anti-climactic which may be wholly intentional. However, there are scenes where the talents of Cobb and Rogers are made abundantly clear despite this fact. This new picture does falter a bit in its resolution through no fault of the performances. Michael J Rogers is fascinating as the man who has limited his life by reacting to what he observes online. His closing scene is definitely intriguing to behold as he delivers words that help give closure to the film’s heavy and authentic feeling premise.
While I can’t quite say this is a wholly successful picture, it’s impossible to ignore it. The current state of the world where people rely on the internet more than the outside world is frighteningly realistic. Shots of a closed Toys R Us and a Best Buy in the middle of nowhere help to show us how dependent people have become on the internet. While the internet has brought us some beneficial things, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair proves we’re not all going good places through online interactions. You can argue whether or not the ending is hopeful or not. I see the glass as half empty though you could argue that it is half full. And aren’t those the best kinds of arguments? This film is quite interesting and may be worth it for you if you are at all intrigued by the premise.
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