The Chattanooga Film Festival is running from June 24th through 29th and features tons of weird, wacky, and wonderful genre fare. Horror, action, science fiction, comedy, drama, you name it. But this isn’t your average film fest, it’s a theater for the unique. Grab your badge and enjoy the show!
No time in history has been more ripe for the found footage sub genre than the Internet age. Screens confront us every day and have made our lives a very comfortable and uncomfortable existence. Filmmaker Jane Schoenburn’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair stands out as not just a cautionary tale about the conflicting realities of the cyber world and our daily lives but as an insightful character study of depression and it’s exasperation through social media.
Casey (Anna Cobb) is an isolated teen. In her life not a friend or family member is shown in the entire movie. She walks alone at night and talks to her phone in hopes that someone out there is listening. Live streams, video blogs, forums, familiar wormholes ; become alarming when Casey announces she wants to play a game. Rumored through a series of viral videos called the World’s Fair Game, the premise is simple. You say the words “I want to go to the world’s fair” and things will begin to happen to you… bad things. Your own personal horror movie.
While Casey claims she’s playing the game because she loves horror movies and wants to be in one, her true intention becomes clearer as she plays. In accordance with the rules she posts video diaries and looks for strange changes in her behavior. Other players have posted experiences of sensation such as “I’m turning to plastic” and “I can’t feel my body.”
A few days later Casey makes her own video and explains “I can’t feel the cold.” as she sits in a winter field with a tee shirt and is suddenly contacted by a mysterious screen name known only as JBL (Michael J Rogers). He explains that she’s in danger. He’s been following her videos and he’s seen something she should see. After showing a clip from her sleep diary, Casey is convinced she’s becoming possessed and confesses to having some strange thoughts. JBL warns that this game is about to become very serious and she may be in over her head. To be safe, he will monitor her progress so long as she makes videos and keep her safe.
Casey accepts and proceeds to do as instructed. But as the game goes on, Casey becomes detached. Thoughts begin to fill her head, she finds a gun and titles of post become more sinister. “My highschool”: a graveyard. “I just had a thought”: she walks through a crowd of people and remembers the gun. “One day I’ll just disappear and you won’t know what happened to me”: a portrait of her sunken eyes, vapid stare and screen burned face.
Anna Cobb shines in her stunning portrayal of Casey and Schoenburn’s camera knows well to hold her melancholic gaze in full frame. Cobb’s portrayal of detachment, depression and sudden manic states draw up a magnificent frame for the film’s approach. Utilizing the film’s composition as a found footage, Casey’s video diaries transcend voyeurism and become personal expressionism. Her behavior becomes erratic, her words less coherent. As the game transforms Casey, self harm and danger draw JBL in to help her as best he can. To connect with her.
With so many lines of communications opened into our modern lives, We’re All Going To The World’s Fair presents a very valid concern over how online realities can affect our own and what good and bad can come of the connections we make. A haunting and melancholic look at isolation in the age of everyone all the time that will have you captivated by it’s art house flair and character drama.