A young teenager named Casey (Anna Cobb) is all alone in her attic bedroom. She decides to begin a whole new challenge and enrols to play an online video game known as The World’s Fair, a game well known for its heavy horror elements. As an audience, we first-hand witness Casey’s first live stream as she enters a new world of gaming.
Whilst researching the possible side effects that could occur from playing, Casey learns that anyone who has played the horrific online game experiences different outcomes. The game consists of many challenges, and as part of the rules, Casey must report and record any changes that she may experience. Of course, the game holds no responsibility for the outcomes that could occur to the player. Casey’s reasoning for playing the game is that she is a lover of horror films and would love to live in one. The film also provides a few subtle hints about other reasons why Casey would love to seek an alternate escape. The question is, can Casey survive and defeat the ultimate game before it’s too late.
This directional debut was written, edited, and directed by Jane Schoenbrun. While it has been marketed as a horror film, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair feels more of a heavy drama with moments that feel quite tense or slightly unsettling to watch. There are many messages and themes here that feel vague, and at times it will be more left to viewers to make their own opinions about the main plot and what’s going on with Casey’s world and personal matters. The film does have its moments that impacted me or kept me thinking even after it ended. Certain aspects have stayed with me on a deeper level, and the film does provide an experience that I feel won’t resonate with all movie lovers.
The movie’s biggest strength is its combination of performances and touching themes. The leading performance from Anna Cobb is great, and the actress delivers many moments which feel realistic. It’s clear the film has been done on a small budget and with a small cast, and the soundtrack is repetitive, bringing nothing overly exciting or new. I can’t deny that what’s been achieved on-screen is quite impressive, and the world that is created visually is great to witness.
Overall, as a directional debut, this film is certainly creative and surprising. Sure, it has been promoted as a horror film, but in reality, it is more of a dark drama packed with heartfelt tones and tense scenes that will be interpreted differently from viewer to viewer. While it feels extremely slow and, at times, even a little dull, thankfully, it still contains some strong performances, and its subtle messaging is powerful. The film is an impacting, memorable experience even if many aspects on-screen seem unclear upon a first watch.