Safer at Home (2021) Is Safer Not Landing in Your Streaming Queue
Title: Safer at Home
First Non-Festival Release: February 26, 2021 (Limited Theatrical Release)
Director: Will Wernick
Writer: Will Wernick, Lia Bozonelis, John Ierardi
Runtime: 82 Minutes
Starring: Dan J. Johnson, Michael Kupisk, Alisa Allapach
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
The COVID-19 virus has spawned multiple strains and stretched quarantine to over two and a half years after claiming millions of lives. Enduring a never-ending lockdown, several friends decide to get together over a video streaming app and celebrate the birthday of Evan (Dan J. Johnson). His best friend Oliver (Michael Kupisk) decides to send all the attendees a package containing a single dose of molly as a stand in for the Vegas trip they had planned years ago. Things are fine until the effects of the drug causes Evan to accidentally kill his girlfriend Jen (Jocelyn Hudon). Scrambling to figure out his best course of action, the night descends into wild chaos as Evan works to evade police capture during curfew and his friends give the best advice they can.
Essentially boiling down to bad COVID-19 fanfiction, Safer at Home is a derivative film devoid of suspense and likable characters.
The downfall of Safer at Home starts and ends with its horrendous writing. No thought must have gone into this “nightmare” scenario because even the most inattentive audience member could pick apart the plot without much hassle. Its central premise is muddied by any degree of scrutiny held up against it. If lockdown measures became so harsh that police were punishing people with detention centers for going outside, wouldn’t there be extra attention paid to mail and packages? That tracks with a surveillance state, which Safer at Home seems to warn against. Either it’s a dumb missed opportunity or a plot hole that no one bothered to address.
Little details really ruin the movie once they are pieced together. The geography makes little sense, and the film tries to get away with faulty logic. What person would park their car blocks away on the side of their street instead of the parking garage near their place? Or even just within walking distance of their apartment? There are so many times when the group’s sound can be heard by others in the vicinity but is downplayed or ignored. Unless, however, that interferes with the progression of the plot. What’s worse is the film vacillates between ignoring and acknowledging this.
A serious venture into the horrors of lockdown, Safer at Home feels like it came from the imagination of the most overwrought and imaginative suburbanite. It feels hilariously out of touch with reality and is dated despite being released this year. It isn’t aided by the hideous writing, which I can't emphasize enough. Its script consists of lots of repetition, shrieking, and people unsure of what to say. Everyone in the cast tries to put on their best concerned face, but they all look goofy doing it. It’s hard to blame them when they are tasked with playing shrill, shallow, annoying, or all three.
There are very few positives to Safer at Home but they do exist. It’s sleekly filmed, even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense with the medium. One can just assume this crew is rather affluent and can afford the latest cell phones and computers. The transitions between screens happens seamlessly and make the film feel more cinematic than it otherwise would. Even though it doesn’t fit the film, it’s still well-done. It’s clear that there is talent behind the screen. What a shame that it is wasted on tripe like this.
As consequential as the paralyzed friends over Zoom, Safer at Home is best left off your watchlist. Its first major strike is overplaying its pandemic hand in ways that make very little sense. It continues to double down on the incredulity of its plot by finding more ways for its main character to mess up his life that go way beyond the realm of realism. It’s always great to see productions come together during difficult times, but this one probably should have gotten more attention before they put project to film. More annoying than terrifying, this pandemic thriller should neither catch on nor go viral amongst anyone looking for late night thrills and suspense.
Overall Score? 3.5/10