Review: We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

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Directed by: Jane Schoenbrun

Written by: Jane Schoenbrun

Starring: Anna Cobb & Michael J. Rogers

Rating: [3/5]

Loneliness serves as one of the most difficult feelings to have as humans. As naturally social creatures, we strive for connection with others. Even introverts seek connection but with just moderation. True loneliness can have an even worse impact when it comes to teenagers as much of their brain and emotional well-being remains in development. This sense of loneliness gets the gears in motion in We’re All Going to the World’s Fair as it explores how this generation of teenagers cope with it. 

Living with her single father, Casey (Anna Cobb) lacks a sense of connection with anyone around her, which has her try the latest internet challenge where one states “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” three times and smears some blood on their laptop and documents what happens to them afterward. After starting the challenge, Casey begins to feel the impact of this game. 

Internet challenges like this one have been around for decades going back to before the internet existed and kids would challenge each other to go into a bathroom and recite “Bloody Mary” three times with the lights off and staring into a mirror. There’s no truth to it, but one can never be too sure. Take me, for instance as a grown adult, who knows nothing about the legend is real but I will not tempt fate by ever trying it. These challenges now get exposure because of social media and the connective and collective experience of being online. This area creates a sense of connection for Casey which indicates why she takes on the challenge and what transpires afterward makes for some uncomfortable viewing. 

With a microsized budget and most of the film occurs with a young girl recording herself from her laptop, the horror of this film comes from the creepy vibes it creates. Not only in the eerie visuals but the overall tone set by the film. A sense of desperation lingers through this feature and when Casey performs the challenge, it comes down to us to distinguish if what we see by her genuinely occurs through the supernatural entity impacting her or if it all comes as part of the show. It allows for an interesting discussion about what gets attention on social media. Sure, she could be genuinely impacted by this game that creates several of the disturbing imagery seen throughout the film. However, having this game have no effect means fewer people will have an interest in checking out the journey. Less engagement means less connection with others, which certainly defeats the purpose of what she wants to accomplish. 

Events of this film definitely take a turn when Casey begins her interactions with JLB and a certain line begins to materialize that adds another level of disturbing content the film has to offer. It continues to blur the line of reality versus performance in this feature and serves as a reminder that outside of all of this, Casey remains a teenage girl and should be treated as such when discussing what occurs later on in the film. 

The horror found in this film certainly does not come from jump scares even though there are certain instances that will certainly instantly unsettle. It mostly comes from the overall tone of the piece or “vibe” for a lack of better words. It’s what makes this feature intriguing in who to recommend it to. You almost have to describe it as an arthouse horror film in how it utilizes patience and build-up in providing its terror. It does not throw constant jittering scares your way to provide entertainment when it relies on the slow build-up and the general sense of dread that comes with the loneliness Casey experiences. A distinct sadness persists for Casey because she has no one else around her except for JLB, who really should not be interacting with her if we’re being honest here. 

Certainly not your typical horror fare, but We’re All Going to the World’s Fair provides something distinct and atmospheric rather than opting to be a more simplistic horror film. It allows for an exploration of how loneliness can be viewed in this era of social media dominating as the mode of communication existent for teenagers. This all dictates if we can believe what we see in this feature, which makes for a slow-burning and intriguing film to experience.

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