As one of the world’s foremost leading introverts, I know all too well the struggles of social anxiety. Gatherings of any size can seem incredibly daunting. Trying to force conversation and small talk can be mentally draining. You’ll rarely catch me at a party, and if you do, I’ll likely be the one shrinking in the corner trying my damnedest not to be noticed. Julianna Robinson’s short film, The Party, (2019) is here to educate the masses on exactly what this feels like.
Ms. Robinson has already established herself as a talented actress, writer, and producer, but The Party marks her first foray into directing. Co-written and produced with frequent collaborator Sean Kohnen (Aaah! Zombies!! 2007, The Funeral Guest 2015), The Party visually captures the psychological hell of social anxiety as perfectly as anyone could.
When a charming stranger invites her to a party, a shy woman’s fear of socializing turns into real terror.
At first glance, The Party might seem to be a pretty unremarkable affair. I confess, on first watch, I honestly thought and hoped I was missing something. Nothing really jumped out; there were no big thrills or chills. Someone forgot to invite any life to this party. But after a couple of viewings, the insidious brilliance of the film began to unfold, as the realization sunk in that the film itself is the centerpiece. From start to finish, the intention is to drive home the uneasiness and frustration of social anxiety, and it achieves this exceedingly well.
Everything Carrie (played beautifully by Abby Eiland: Cassidy Red 2017, Pure Love 2015) experiences is par for the course for those struggling with anxiety: the inescapable sense of isolation; feeling totally alone even in a room full of people; sensing at one moment that everyone is staring at you or talking about you, only to feel completely ignored the next. The Party effectively covers the entire spectrum of emotions associated with social anxiety and successfully makes it look as uncomfortable as it genuinely is. The cinematography of Matthew Kohnen (Aaah! Zombies! 2007) and Maleficent’s (2014) Jane Antonia Cornish’s suitably moody score help drive the point home even more effectively. However, there’s no mistaking that this is a horror film… all the terrors are just not implied.
I sincerely hope people go into Julianna Robinson’s The Party with an open mind. It might seem a little bland or generic on the surface, but in actuality, this films cuts deeper than you might expect. It’s sophisticated, intelligent, and for those of us who deal with social anxiety, resonates hard on a very relatable level. I’m not sure a short film could ever fully convey the mental torment of anxiety, but this one manages to deliver the gamut of emotions exceptionally well in a very efficient 9 minutes. This could be an eye-opening glimpse into anxiety for the outgoing, life-of-the-party types, a chance to experience the nightmare us introverts live through on a daily basis. There’s something for everyone at this soiree, so don’t pass up your invitation to The Party. Cinepocalypse 2019 just played host to this party, but if the opportunity crops up for you to see it for yourself, get your RSVPs in immediately!