Interview: Cody Calahan, Chad Archibald, and Michelle Mylett talk Antisocial
There hits a point in most 21st century-set horror films where the hero or heroine must lose their cell phone, watch the battery drain, or express frustration that they have no signal. It’s a realistically reasonable yet cinematically absurd construct to help set up more peril, because sometimes all you need to do is call the police.
Cody Calahan’s bloody and terrifying Antisocial, however, prevents that situation from ever happening, but subverting convention and turning what teens of today embrace into something deadly and menacing.
“People are literally zombies to their phone,” explained Chad Archibald, who wrote the script alongside Calahan about a deadly virus that breaks out around the world. As a writer, he said it’s all too easy to say that a phone doesn’t have service, or the Internet is out, and that’s unrealistic. “So what if social media was the cause? It’s the fastest way to spread a virus around the world.”
“We’re playing with social media and its effects,’ added Calahan. The pair spoke about the film ahead of its showing at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal this past summer. Antisocial hits Toronto this Friday. “People are so attached to it, including us, we use it all the time, and it is a sickness.”
In this gory indie university horror, a group of friends gather to celebrate the New York, but they soon learn from television and the web that the world is quickly becoming plagued by something fast-spreading and vicious. They see it on videos online while checking on ‘The Social Redroom,’ the film’s Facebook facsimile.
“Even though it’s fully zombie-style and that’s hard to relate with, we lose a lot of ourselves in social media and networking, it can be scary for a lot of people,” said actress, dancer, and model Michelle Mylett, now living in Toronto. She is making her feature film debut here with Antisocial, and also occasionally wields an axe. “If everything remains on and if something were to actually happen, [going online] is the first thing I would do. That’s how our society works, that’s the culture. It’s relatable.”
Unfortunately for those in the film, going online is what causes problems, something that is hard to realize and harder still to avoid. Mylett, who admitted herself that she stays connected but like so many others wonders about how much control we really have in the online world, embraced a role that allowed for her character to be a vocal leader, but also a physical presence.
“I love watching horror, and I love acting in it with all the crazy stuff I get to do,” she continued. “It’s like acting out your nightmare in a fun, controlled environment, screaming and running around.”
Calahan and Archibald sought to make a horror that blending classic tropes and scares with new ideas and themes. While reminiscing on old zombies thrillers, they also did appropriate online research.
“We did searches on cyber bullying and the extent to which it gets bad,” said Calahan. “I got super creeped out watching these kids, it actually scared the s#!+ out of me.”
Archibald echoed the sentiments. “We watch so many disturbing videos online, we got sick to our stomachs,” he said. “We were trying to captures those feelings, and that stuff was probably more inspirational than anything else.”
Antisocial opens Friday, Dec. 13 at Carlton Cinema.