I have a weird quirk that I need to share (I have several, but I’m only sharing this one): I don’t like to watch videos on social media. I am not into TikTok nor do I follow people on YouTube. If I click on an article on Facebook and a video starts playing, I immediately close it; I read quickly and would much rather read and ingest the information faster than the video is serving it.
So why am I sharing this? Because we here at Film Combat Syndicate are currently covering the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival and I just watched We’re All Going to the World’s Fair and because of the above quirk, this movie was not for me. It was not a bad movie, but I was not the intended audience for this film.
So what’s the movie about?
I was excited to view this film because it sounded so intriguing. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair made its Berlin premiere at this year’s Final Girls Berlin Film Festival and is directed by Jane Schoenbrun. It involves an internet challenge that, once done, makes the challenger undergo changes. Creepy, right? Here’s the full synopsis:
“I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair.” Say it three times into your computer camera. Prick your finger, draw some blood, and smear it on the screen. Now press play on the video. They say that once you’ve seen it, the changes begin… In a small town, a shy and isolated teenage girl (Anna Cobb in a stunning feature debut) becomes immersed in an online role-playing game, wherein she begins to document the changes that may or may not be happening to her.
The process of doing this challenge and waiting for something to happen reminded me a bit of Rings, the movie where you watch a film and then something comes to kill you within a week. There was also a hint of Bloody Mary and Candyman with saying a phrase and waiting for a presence to come. That’s not to say this film isn’t original, it definitely does not stand in any film’s shadow.
The challenge itself is unsettling: you say something three times and make yourself bleed. That makes me think of cults and sacrifices and is probably not going to lead to any change that is positive. But Casey does it and then documents the changes. What follows is a slow journey of atmospheric and psychological horror. Is she changing? She is a vlogger (another thing I don’t follow) and her followers watch as she films herself sleeping, behaving in ways that she does not realize or remember until she herself sees the video. Is this part of the challenge or is she losing it? This trip to the World’s Fair is a very creepy one that I think most people would enjoy.
For me, because I don’t watch videos or vloggers I was not as interested in the idea of someone documenting their journey. We don’t just see Casey’s trip to the fair either. We see video clips of other people who have taken the challenge and no one reacts the same way.
So what happens to Casey? What is the deal with this challenge? You have to watch We’re All Going to the World’s Fair to find out.