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Society (1989) Review

A bit of backstory of the era this movie, the 1980s could be a resurgence to the idea of the American Dream. In true Wolf of Wall Street vein, the goal is to work hard, make a lot of money, then play even harder. Money truly can buy happiness. At least that's what was shoved down everyone's throats at that time.

Society directed by Brian Yuzna takes that mentality and then amplifies it. The film takes place in California where Bill Whitney (played by Billy Warlock) is trying desperately to fit in with his high-class family but fails desperately to do so. In theory, he should, he has a beautiful girlfriend, a seemingly and happy family, and a cool new jeep to boot. However, as he tells his therapist, something just doesn't sit well with him and that seems to be confirmed when his friend gives him a recording of his sister engaging in an orgy with their parents and some of other elite community members. Yeah, petty sick, right?

But, before the audience can really grasp on to the audacity of that, his therapist plays the tape only to find out it's not real and perhaps Billy is imagining everything. That sets the real story into motion. Billy is unconvinced that everything is A-Okay and continues to dive deeper into the lives of the town's elite, including going to a typical 1980s teenage party and eventually going to a large-scale gala, put on by his parents. It is there that Billy is met with the terrible truth that the rich literally feed on the poor in a bizarre ritualistic orgy/cannibalism party. If you are going into this movie expecting an extremely conscious and intelligent commentary on socioeconomic disparities through satire, you're going to be severely disappointed. However, if you want a self-aware, on-the-nose film that doesn't take itself too seriously, this is it. It's a dumb film, that knows it's a dumb film, and while there are some elements of social commentary, it's still a campy teen horror flick at its core.

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That doesn't mean it's not a fun time. It's witty and the horror special effects alone are worth watching. All special effects were done by Joji Tani, or Screaming Mad George as he is known, a master in body horror and especially weird gags. There's so much visual strangeness that it's even hard to pick one stand out scene because they all do. While the ending does leave one feeling a little confused and dissatisfied, it's a wild ride from start to finish.