Directed by Tara Subkoff
Written by Tara Subkoff
Starring Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy, Bridget McGarry, Blue Lindeberg, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler, Timothy Hutton, Chloë Sevigny, Stella Schnabel, Balthazar Getty, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Lydia Hearst, Brenna Perez, Jessica Blank, Natasha Lyonne
I found it! #HORROR is THE most annoying film of the year! Just when I thought recent theatrical horror releases were too choppily edited and filled with unrelatable characters you want to see die horribly, this film comes along and ups the ante to the nth degree.
Or maybe, just maybe, #HORROR is something more than just it’s twerky exterior. No matter how many times I think I’ve made up my decision about this film, I end up thinking more about it. It is an unforgettable style film, no matter what your feelings. You can’t deny there isn’t much like it out there in horror.
#HORROR basically tries to make a comment on the cell phone/social media addicted culture we live in; a place where everything waking second is deemed so important that it has to be hash tagged, photographed, tweeted, downloaded, and uploaded immediately for followers to like, share, and repost. This film moves at a clip so frantic that even by the time the credits rolled by at a staccato, strobe like pace, I was beginning to find myself choking back an epileptic seizure. Every character in this film, including all adults and teens (save for Timothy Hutton, who plays an absolute batshit crazy person) have their mushes hovering inches over their cell phones and barely relating to one another. It’s a film that wants to put a negative comment on the way these people act, but celebrate it for such a long time that the small portion when the comeuppance comes up feels less than satisfying.
Let me put it this way. Rape/revenge films, to me, are often panned for celebrating the rape by spending the bulk of the time focusing on the rape itself while the revenge portion is sort of tacked on at the end (which is supposed to be the satisfying bit to soothe you for the horrors you just witnessed by giving the rapist their just desserts). That’s how #HORROR is structured. Though the social mediots do end up gorily disposed of, it only happens in the last twenty minutes and occurs so quickly that it has little heft or resonance. This is a celebration of the social media addicted, not a lesson about the negative aspects of it, just as a lot of those rape/revenge films exploit the act of rape for those who get off on it rather than a cathartic experience to promote overcoming the heinous crime.
Kara Subkoff seems to be a talented filmmaker. The dialog from the 12 year old cast is shocking and terrifying, more so because it feels all too real. #HORROR is trying to make as much a statement on bullying as it is about social media culture and while the words again are horrific, the payoff isn’t. On top of that, this is a beautiful looking film—one which feels artsy in a grotesque way (mainly because the film takes place in a house full of modern art symbolizing the blossoming womanhood of the young girls). It’s obvious that this film has something to say about girls this age being thrust into adulthood too soon through their social interactions. The problem is that it feels as if Subkoff had too much fun with the Twitter/Facebook animations that strobed through this film and the biting, bullying dialog and forgot that this was a film with a message against that stuff.
The imagery of this film is haunting as the girls dance with adult masks covering their faces and the artwork of this house makes every room a new nightmare. The way Chloë Sevigny is so distracted with her own problems to notice that her daughter and her friends are close to killing one another as well as the fact that she awkwardly acts like one of the twelve year olds is almost as horrifying as Timothy Hutton’s bent performance as an overprotective father. The elements are there, but the problem with #HORROR is that is chooses to neglect the problem until it’s almost way too late to make an impact. #HORROR is annoying and nightmarish because it really does feel like you’re in the head of someone who can’t live without an internet connection. I wish the filmmaker would have been a little removed enough from the subject matter to make the points she was trying to make.
Still, more and more, I feel this is a relevant horror film that is deserving of a watch, simply for it being such an oddity and a weird example of some truly modern horrors.