Society Review

Image for Society

In Beverly Hills, a teenager's ideal existence (sporting prowess, hot girlfriend, affluent parents) comes into question when he glimpses disturbing goings on (orgies, perversion, adultery) beneath the façade of a life he now sees himself leading.


Billy Witney (Warlock) should be very happy. A top dog at sports, an attractive girlfriend and one of the popular guys at the Beverly Hills Academy, Billy would appear to have everything going for him. The problem is he keeps getting the feeling that if he just so much as scratches the surface of his glossy suburban world then the whole thing will collapse into corruption and decay. This sense of unease isn't helped when the apple he bites into reveals a mess of crawling maggots, and comes to a critical head when he's given an audio tape which suggests that his young sister's coming out party was nothing less than an incestuous orgy involving both his parents and a lot of other "respectable" folk. Billy's life seems to be falling apart. His analyst tells him to "accept society's rules", but what kind of society is it where conspiracy, deceit and lust are rampant and a new girlfriend can ask questions like this: "How do you like your tea; cream, sugar, or do you want me to pee in it"?

A wildly original extended gag at the expense of over-smiling adults, a privileged home life and the best that money can buy, Society is the perfect antidote to the current glut of movie happy families. The first half of the film builds up a convincing sense of alienation with Billy discovering that absolutely nothing is as it seems. The second half switches gear completely and the special effects are served up with commendable relish. Director Yuzna's gleeful quote in the production information is the only clue you'll get here: "Some extras were glued to that blubbery, slimy mess for 10 hours a day!"

In one sense Society takes Billy socially, mentally and sexually into what can only be described as the ultimate teenage nightmare. But Yuzna and his veteran special effects man Screaming Mad George serve up this literal slime with such verve, wit and overall verbal and visual flair that the movie also stands as one of the very finest of teen comedies. The ending defies everything which has gone before, but since the entire film is based on the collapse of logic and order that's a very small fault. At the very least the usually innocent phrase "Cast in Order Of Appearance" will take on an entirely new meaning after you've experienced Society. A thoroughly disgusting treat.

Way ahead of its time, this is a balls-out satire on the disgraceful layers that can lurk just beneath the Avon surface. This is anti-Ferris Bueller and fiendishly funny.