Antisocial Behavior (2014) – By Kirsten Walsh

Music really can make or break a film. From the opening seconds of “Antisocial Behavior”, it is obvious what type of film the audience is getting themselves into. The tense high piano notes, the underlying muffled drums. It showcases a modern feel that sets the film up to go in several directions and meshes extremely well with the introduction of the lead, Joe. What follows that distinct lead in is an odd, crazy film that has a unique story that exaggerates the human mind.
“How far would you go to confront the demons of your past? After twenty-something Joe (Jackson Kuehn) plays a seemingly innocent drinking game at a party, he suffers a sudden violent blackout that awakens something sinister within. Much to his horror, they become more frequent in the coming days and bring with them visions of mind-numbing terror. As Joe questions his diminishing sanity, he is met with increasing physical pain that spawns balls of bloodstained flesh from his very body. He must trace his forgotten childhood to learn the savage truth that left him in an orphanage and why now it has returned to haunt him. In this gripping and suspenseful tale of psychological horror by Kenneth Guertin, what’s hidden in the past can be far more evil than anything ever imagined.”

With only a brief exposition sequence into the characters, the film kicks off with a bang and sends Joe down a dark path that doesn’t reveal much to the audience except in flickering pieces. Like any good mystery, clues to Joe’s ailments are provided throughout the film, culminating in a finale move that leaves the audience inside Joe’s mind. The first twenty minutes of the film is spent in dark hallways, bathrooms, and Joe’s bedroom as he attempts to figure out why he is having intensive blackouts that continuously get worse. The dialogue is written well, but not all of the lines play well on screen and seem over rehearsed. The acting carries over well with a talented cast of characters, from Joe to his roommate (played by Chad Bishop) to the prospective but failing love interest Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Boylan). One issue I have specifically is with Wendy’s amount of care for Joe. Wendy, having met Joe once at a party, starts a budding relationship with him, but begins to see him go a little crazy. It is understandable that his roommate would care, but his brand new girlfriend? Most girls wouldn’t become more emotionally invested after the guy shows up in his underwear from waking up on the beach. Most girls wouldn’t attend psychologist appointments with him. But in this exaggerated world within the film, Wendy’s maternal nature gets the better of her and she attaches herself to Joe’s side.

The film is shot quite beautifully. With several stock footage shots to establish a city environment (that production value goes a long way), we understand Joe’s seemingly isolated nature. The lighting is both abstract and natural. In the party sequence, for example, the light had color extremes ranging from purples to reds. Always maintaining a warm tone and keeping the actors well lit, cinematographer Takuro Ishizaka has a very fitting frame sets for each scene. Mixed with the excellent music, the overall tone of the film is displayed prominently throughout the story. In the writing, with some calm moments to offset the crazy ones, the pacing moves along steadily. Among my favorite scenes are the ones in Joe’s art studio, where the lighting is sparse but unique, and it appears to be just a room with trash bags lining the walls and splashed with paint. A simple production move, but looks beautiful on camera, and although no killings take place within the room, it is vaguely reminiscent of Dexter’s kill room from
Dexter” (2006).

The film is an excellent fit into the world of films such as “Donnie Darko” (2001),“The Butterfly Effect” (2004), and “American Psycho” (2000) . A mysterious, eery, dark psychological thriller- it keeps the audience guessing for the length of the film.

Would I watch it again? Hell yeah- but I would skip over the dog kennel scene. There’s no on screen dog deaths (which I am very much against), but it is implied that a dog is put down. It does play into the storyline of Joe’s character, but it is a sad reality for both Joe and the audience to face together.

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