Greetings from the Underground!
It can easily be said that the past year’s events will impact our society for years to come. We can already see how it is influencing the arts, namely film. One such film is coming to V.O.D. on February 26th, and it is called “Safer At Home,” a phrase we all have become very familiar with.
“Safer at Home” is set two years after the initial COVID-19 pandemic. Since that first outbreak, several more severe outbreaks have caused the tightening of social distancing restrictions and kept people locked up in their homes. A group of friends decide to get together virtually via a “Zoom”-type meeting in an attempt to salvage some semblance of their annual tradition. To enhance the evening, they all take ecstasy. The night soon turns into a nightmare as the “party” takes a deadly turn. It is a night that will impact their lives far greater than the pandemic ever has.
Setting a thriller during a pandemic while still in the middle of one in real life is a bold move by director Will Wernick. Some would say it is too soon and may find it hard to get past the opening made up of a montage of news clips from 2020. The story is told completely through a Zoom like meeting. This may also turn some people off to it. I think these elements help the audience immediately connect with the characters. We have all had experience with some form of virtual meeting. Having a shared experience between the audience and characters helps you relate to what the characters have been going through. It pulls you in and makes you feel like you are right there with this group of friends. While it is not my favorite style of film, it is a style used very effectively here.
“Safer at Home” is a character-driven piece. All of the cast perform well with the material they were given. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry between Adwin Brown and Daniel Robaire. They played off each other well and felt like a real couple. Jocelyn Hudon does excellent work in the role of Jen and has a tremendous intense scene with Dan J. Johnson, who plays her boyfriend, Evan. During that scene, I felt myself get physically tense in spite of myself. Everyone rises to the challenge of what is a pseudo-one-take movie. They stay in character, and their reactions felt natural. The editing and direction also help keep things from ever getting stagnant.
I only had one major and one minor issue. The minor issue was with some of the dialogue. While some of the conversations felt like they were parroting current real-life discussions, there were moments where it felt too on the nose and almost forced. The primary issue I had is with the camera shots themselves. There were multiple times when I found myself scratching my head, wondering why the person was still filming. These moments were as glaring as the light on a smartphone but not enough to ruin my enjoyment. There is a wonderful emotional twist at the end of the film that helped me forgive these two issues.
The setting to the presentation to the social commentary helps make “Safer at Home” a relevant modern-day thriller that will hit home with the audience. If you enjoy “Desktop” films like “Searching” and “Windows,” then you will want to seek this out. It is the perfect movie to watch while you are “Safer at Home.”