Released in 1989, at the height of the ‘80s Greed Is Good mentality, Society is perhaps more relevant now than it ever was. Put it this way, by the end of Society you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you’re not in the 1%.
Failing to gain traction at the US box office the film found a home among more discerning UK audiences who reveled in the satirical look at the high society the film presents. There is a sense of fun from the outset, all shrouded in a paranoia-fuelled thriller that never lets up, culminating in one of the most grotesque and ridiculously outrageous endings in cinema history.
Billy, a fresh off the Baywatch beach Billy Warlock who gives new meaning to the “smell the fart” school of acting, is great at sport, popular at school and has a beautiful girlfriend. But he feels like an outsider in his own home, his parents and sister having a secret life in which he is not invited. When his sister’s ex-boyfriend plays a recording of his family he soon realises that they may be closer than he originally thought and soon begins to uncover a plot which places him in serious trouble.
If there is any doubt as to the fun director Brian Yuzna is having it is clearly demonstrated in the subversive tone of the film. That smile inducing over-acting you associate with the short-lived, it’s-so-bad-it’s-brilliant soap Sunset Beach. You know the type; in which every character has multiple skeletons in the closet and at any moment you could discover that the pretty girl’s new lover is in fact her long lost twin brother.
In the Q & A that accompanies this typically fleshed out and bursting at the seams release from Arrow Films, Yuzna talks about the experience of trying to get into parties. That you need to find the club that doesn’t have a name, before trying to get into the after-party and finally into the VIP room. There are so many layers of elitism going on and you’re so desperate to be a part of it all you forget to actually enjoy it. Society takes this to the extreme to both disgusting and hilarious levels. Imagine if The Social Network had been directed by an Eli Roth or a member of the Splat-Pack, so instead of code and algorithms being drawn on dorm walls you have enough KY Jelly dripping from the ceiling to keep Hugh Hefner happy for years.
Icky doesn’t quite cut it; Society will lead you up a path or paranoia before dumping you in a vat of slime.