We All going to the World’s Fair review: horror for internet addicts

The internet has a different texture when everyone around you has gone to sleep. The world behind the screen expands as the world outside it shrinks, becoming a portal to another place. It’s Alice’s Viewfinder by YouTube links. At unfamiliar hours, people’s attention is more easily drawn to unfamiliar corners of the internet where indirect communication is possible, however, with other people who are also attracted to them.

In the enchantment of Jane Schoenbrun We’re all going to the world’s fairLonely teenage girl Casey (Anna Cobb) spends her time deep in one of those corners. After a long time watching videos posted by others about the World’s Fair, an urban internet legend wrapped around a secret passage ritual, she decided to join her own. At the beginning of the film, she sits in her attic bedroom at night, illuminated by the light of her laptop screen. She followed each step of the ritual: She pricked her finger, smeared blood on the screen, played a video, and shouted “I want to go to the World’s Fair” three times. Then her journey began – one that she spontaneously documented online, as part of the process of telling a collective story.

According to legend, once someone joins the World Fairness Challenge, as the name suggests, they will begin to change in unpredictable and unknown ways. Something from their deepest fears and nightmares will become literal. The ritual is just the beginning of the game: Participants must continue to post videos, documenting any changes that take place. Finally, something terrifying can happen. A man turned into an evil clown. Another discovered a strange growth on his arm. Casey wondered what could have happened to her.

Majority World’s Fair Follow Casey as she does and watch the videos of her going down this creepypasta rabbit hole. It’s a very solitary movie – Casey doesn’t talk to other people in real life, nor does he ever share a frame with one. While much of the movie opens up from the webcam’s perspective, it is sometimes pulled back to show how empty the movie’s real-world space is. Casey’s bedroom in the attic retreats inward, a claustrophobic, endless space. Suburban rot marks her surroundings, with abandoned big-box department stores and sparse, dead streets dotted with a gray landscape. Once, we heard someone – perhaps a parent – yell at Casey to turn her volume down. That was the only time someone talked to her offline.

The kind of horror caused by the Internet We’re all going to the world’s fair discovery is predicted on the connection. People who live their lives online are acutely aware of so many other people, so many other lives. The yearning of youth “Is that all there is to it?” suddenly got a specific answer: no, it’s not. A lot more. The discovery was thrilling at first: Yes great number of The internet, lots of people and ideas, are all better or more interesting than the ones you’ll spend a lifetime on. It can also be terrifying, if you stop to think that maybe you’ll see too much.

When Casey posted her video and allowed the algorithm to pull her deeper into the World’s Fair community, someone named JLB (Michael L. Rogers) contacted her. JLB is a vlogger that doesn’t show his face – whenever he posts, he has a stand-alone illustration of a ghoul with a grin. He reaches out to those participating in the World Equity challenge, with the understanding that his interests and conversations are entirely “in the game” – his modus operandi challenges World Justice very seriously, never breaking character, in the hope that he and the people he talks to are “feared together”.

JLB appreciates Casey’s approach to the World Justice challenge, as her video features creepypasta vector-horror content. They are simple, unadorned recordings of normal behavior, quietly interrupted by something unpleasant. Maybe there’s a supernatural element going on, or maybe all the participants are just acting, to feel like they’re part of a community, or maybe they’re living with fantasies of change. their own. In her debut performance, Cobb blurred reality with such ease that it was impossible to distinguish which lines World’s Fair about to land. Is she really dissociating and having out-of-body experiences, or is she demoralizing herself and using World’s Fair to explain feelings of depression or irritability? Is she really sleepwalking or is she performing for dozens of people watching her videos? Is something haunting her, or has she just grown up?

Casey, covered in bright light in a dark veil and holding a stuffed animal's eyeball in front of her left eye, stares into her webcam in We All going to the World's Fair.

Image: Utopia

In the early morning hours, when consciousness and sleep scramble for the minds of those lost in the scroll of infinity, it can be difficult to distinguish between immersive and true horror. The only consistent anchor is the familiar circular Internet arrows that refresh, automatically uploading another video for Casey to watch. Her aimless loading and scrolling dimmed as she wandered aimlessly around her hometown, and the longer she played the game online, the harder it was to tell if her behavior was calculated. Like, does she know which parts of the story are true and which are not, or if she ever did.

We’re all going to the world’s fair is an algorithmic thriller that presents a world – our world – where young people are trying to figure out who they are while machines are also tracking them, trying to figure them out faster. again. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm doesn’t know the difference between sincerity and irony, between propaganda and satire promoting different tastes. It only cares about keeping people on track. There is always another video ready to play. The hard-coded algorithm assumes no one can find what they’re looking for.

This is the real horror of trying to figure out who you are online. The hope of the Internet is that everyone can find community, that the weirdness of activities like operating anonymously to scare each other online can create a safe, creative place. Schoenbrun suggests that within that common range of expression, people can decide who they want to be and who they want to be. We’re all going to the world’s fair It’s not just a movie about connecting, it’s also about being. It’s a powerful acknowledgment of how disconcerting and terrifying adulthood can be for young people. But it’s also a movie about hope. There is a name for the specific type of alienation and confusion its characters are feeling. Possibly, it suggests that people like Casey will find the name, despite the machine’s best efforts.

We’re all going to the world’s fair Now showing in theaters and coming soon AppleVudu and other digital services on April 22.

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