As the end credits of “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” begin to flash on the screen, penned in a haphazard, casual cursive, there exist no feelings of fear, trepidation, or dread. Contrary to the film’s marketing, “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is not a horror film; it’s barely even a film in the typical sense. Rather than relying on dialogue, plot or conflict, the film acts much more as a walk through a dimly-lit art gallery of portraits than a typical hour-and-a-half long motion picture. Limiting the cast to essentially a single character, a high school senior on the brink of adulthood, the film opens itself up to highlighting the unseen and unspoken quality of life: time spent alone. “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is not a horror film, but the truth of isolation and what it means for us all.
The film follows a teenager named Casey, played by Anna Cobb in her feature film debut, as she begins an online augmented reality horror game called “The World’s Fair.” Participants begin this game by repeating “I want to go to the World’s Fair” three times before pricking their finger, wiping blood across their computer screen and watching a creepy pasta-esque video of flashing lights and strange sounds. The film opens with Casey sitting in a darkened attic bedroom, solely illuminated by the dim hue of her laptop shining across her face as she begins the game. An online community quickly forms with players developing different symptoms following their participation. Casey herself changes after beginning “The World’s Fair,” prompting her to film short video blogs as a record of her metamorphosis.
While the plot of the film is enough to move it forward through an hour and twenty-five minute runtime, what makes those eighty-five minutes ‘worth it’ is in its ability to capture an atmosphere. “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is unique in its depiction of a deep hopelessness. The film employs a very dreary visual mixture of voyeuristic cinematography, long cuts and bleak coloration in many scenes that bleeds the essence of isolation. This combined with sparse dialogue, an uneasy performance by Cobb and an ambient, dreampop-inspired soundtrack by Alex G makes this film almost unbearable; ‘almost’ being the key word.
“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” is not a feel-good film, nor is it really a feel-bad film. It’s a somewhat feel-nothing film: a look into the pressures of adolescence, the pain of isolation and the struggles of coping. It is not the right film to watch on a Friday night with friends, nor while on a romantic date night, but it’s important. We try to make life black and white: good/bad, happy/sad, etc., but it is in the time we spend alone that we really see who we are, in the ambiguity and obscurity of our emotions and feelings. “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” begs of the audience to reflect on how this ambiguity and isolation within our own thoughts have shaped us and how we move forward, for better or for worse.