One of the smartest, creepiest movies to emerge from Sundance’s appropriately virtual 2021 NEXT section was “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” the dreamy feature debut of filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun. This postmodern horror movie centers on a young internet wonk, teenager Casey (an assured Anna Cobb), whose hours spent online in her attic bedroom tune her into the dark underworld of role-playing meme challenges. Exclusive to IndieWire, watch the debut trailer for the film below.
Reality and illusion collide as Casey opts to take part in the World’s Fair Challenge, a mysterious online horror game that asks participants to, Bloody Mary style, repeat “I want to go to the World’s Fair” three times before drawing blood from their finger. As she starts to document what happens next through viral videos, her grip begins to loosen, and a mysterious figure starts to beckon her from the depths of the internet — or her own unconscious.
Schoenbrun directs the film from their own screenplay. In an interview with Women and Hollywood, they said, “I wanted to make a movie about growing up within the liminal space of the internet, and I wanted to explore questions about identity, power, and authorship through the lens of the creepypasta genre,” adding that they hope “people remember the film as a strange and beautiful journey they went on, not so different from a dream they had.”
One of the film’s most intriguing elements is an eerie ambient and acoustic score from indie musician Alex G, which you can hear hints of in the ASMR-inducing trailer.
From IndieWire’s Sundance review of the film, Kate Erbland wrote: “Jane Schoenbrun understands the internet. The filmmaker behind such projects as ‘A Self-Induced Hallucination’ (a 2018 doc ‘about the internet’), the tech-tinged ‘Eyeslicer’ series, and the dreamy ‘collective: unconscious’ has always found the space to explore the worldwide web with respect, reverence, and a hearty dose of fear. For their narrative feature debut, Schoenbrun expands their obsessions to craft an intimate tale about the impact of modern internet culture. Part coming-of-age story, part horror film, and the greatest argument yet that something as bonkers as ‘Creepypasta’ can inspire something so beautiful, ‘We’re All Going to the World’s Fair’ is a strong debut for a filmmaker who is nothing if not consistent in their themes.”
Utopia releases “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” April 15 at BAM and the Quad Cinema in New York, with a nationwide expansion (including the Landmark Westwood in Los Angeles) and digital release April 22. IndieWire also shares an exclusive animated poster for the film below.