The Message of We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

A creepy film about loneliness in an online world.

In what feels like a showcase of the next generation of filmmaking, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is a slow-burn masterpiece. Jane Schoenbrun serves as the writer, editor, and director of the film while newcomer Anna Cobb stars as the lead alongside Michael J. Rogers. After premiering at Sundance Film Festival in early 2021, the movie has now finally reached the streaming world of HBO Max.


What Is the World’s Fair? 

The eerie feeling that We’re All Going to the World’s Fair builds feels endless. The only two actors in the film do a wonderful job at portraying the incredibly strange sequence of events that slowly unfold. There’s very little obviousness here except for the complete feeling of emptiness that takes over the characters and you little by little. Some scenes go on for what feels like forever but only later can you see the bigger picture. It doesn’t feel purposeful at first but this is the only way to build upon the sense of upcoming dread. The original music also helps a lot to get through some of the slower moments. 

One of the main themes of the film is the lack of human connection that people who spend a lot of time online experience. Mainly, teenagers who have grown up in this world are consumed by the internet. Making videos and connecting with random strangers online can seem like the only option to get those missing connections. Though, of course, you could also attract middle-aged men just as Casey, the main character, does. 

At many points, it’s difficult to understand what is real and what is made up by the characters, as they both are clearly going through a tough time with their mental health. It’s explained at some point as a horror game and a story to explore, but how far can it go? Casey loses herself within the countless videos she keeps making with basically only one loyal viewer. The found footage aspect of the videos uploaded helps make the world feel more real, if not also a lot scarier. 


What is the Message? 

A teenager lost in the difficulties of youth with the potential to go a really dark road. A middle-aged man who feels completely lost in his life and spends too much time watching videos online. The message is ambiguous enough that you’re not going to fully comprehend it after watching it once. Though if you listen to the director’s interviews you may understand some of the themes better with a second watch. 

The themes of transformation and changing into another body are blatant, but, how that relates to the general story is not. A constant need for screens to fall asleep, to get through the day, and forgetting what time of the day it is, are all symptoms of a person consumed by the online world. A game of little popularity yet total consumption of the body. As with all peculiar things that pull you in; an offering of a sense of community plays a part in you giving in as well. 

The inner radicalization filled with unfounded hatred of one’s self and family members represents pure emptiness, literally and figuratively. The film feels empty and not just because of the low-budget aspect. Everything feels intentional which leads to confusion if you’re missing the meaning of a couple of scenes here and there. 

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair has been received incredibly well by critics everywhere. The audiences have been a lot more mixed as most people seem to think it’s either a one or five out of five stars. Despite everything surrounding it though, if you want to watch an 84-minute unsettling horror with a realness you can’t find in many other movies, check this movie out. 



Photo: VasiliyBudarin/Shutterstock


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