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‘Safer at Home’ review: First person thriller plays it too safe

Can you hear me?

Safer at Home is a scenario that will probably be visited a lot in future movies. It is a pandemic thriller shot on video chat in real time. It is 2022 and Covid-19 still has people living in quarantine. The streets are filled with chaos and people communicate mainly through laptops and smartphones. It actually does not sound like too much has changed. 

In this case, a group of friends decide they are going to throw an online party. Even though they are in their own homes, they are still planning to have a wild night of debauchery. After taking an ecstasy pill, things become much more terrifying than any of them had planned. 

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Due to its aesthetics, Safer at Home is going to deal with some obvious restrictions. The film is not going to have the big sets are large establishing shots for mood. As with any other found footage/first person point of view film, it comes down to story and characters. Since these movies all follow a similar pattern, it is important for these two elements stand out.

Initially, there is good world and character building. The friends spend time talking about relationships and their frustrations. It is in these moments the audience can relate most to Safer at Home. Once the main action kicks in, things become less interesting. At this point, the plot sticks to the same found footage formula.

This could have been overcome with strong characters. Safer at Home does little with its cast, however. Many of them are relegated to background status as things worsen. The chaotic nature of the plot and the use of split screen also make it difficult to get attached to anyone. Watching a video call makes the viewer a passive member; that is fine in real life with people you know. It does not translate well here.

Found footage/first person movies may end up seeing another resurgence in the next few months. Last year’s lockdown led to an increase in video conferencing and online get-togethers. Safer at Home takes this ready made premise and does not do anything new with it. This ends up making the whole thing feel stale and uninspired.

Safer at Home comes to select theaters, VOD, and digital February 26

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