Residents of Arcadia has lofty ambitions. The film is about social media influencers Steve (Michael Stephen Perry) and Anika (Kamanth Naidoo, iZombie). The pair are trying to portray a life of success for their followers while also struggling with their finances. One night, a man tries to break into their house. Shortly after, a mysterious countdown appears on screens and mirrors throughout their home. As the timer reaches zero, the truth behind their supposedly perfect lives are revealed.
Social media is becoming more common in genre cinema, and things get off to a promising start. Writer-director Dom Cutrupi does an excellent job of setting the stage. Most movies still have not gotten past portraying influencers as shallow people who only care about likes and follows. While there is some truth to that, Steve and Anika have concerns that go beyond how many clicks their latest videos received.
After a cold open that runs around fifteen minutes, Residents of Arcadia shifts tones. New characters are introduced and things remain intriguing, initially. Unfortunately, this does not last long as the movie begins to introduce a number of sub plots. Due to the short runtime, most of them are not resolved in a satisfactory manner. This also adds a layer of confusion to a story that is pretty straightforward. Audiences are asked to keep up with a number of characters and their stories.
What makes this so frustrating is the topics being discussed are important ones. Identity and immigration are major themes that never get fully explored. They come off more as constant background noise which means Residents of Arcadia never reaches the full emotional resonance it is going for. The film is never bad – it actually has some really neat ideas and is filled with great characters – it is just too unfocused.
Residents of Arcadia will be available On Demand November 11
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