It’s not mean. 

Cyberbullying, and the over dependance on social media and technology, seem to be an attractive theme for indie horror filmmakers. After this past spring’s surprisingly entertaining Unfriended, the latest one to take on this theme is the IFC Midnight movie #Horror. Written and directed by actress and conceptual artist Tara Subkoff, known for her roles in The Last Days of Disco and The Cell. The film stars Chloe Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, Haley Murphy, Sadie Seelert, and Natasha Lyonne.

#Horror follows one disastrous sleepover between exceptionally catty and mean-spirited group of girls including poor newbie Sam, basket case Cat, queen bee Sophia, overweight Georgie, and two girls called Francsca and Ava (they don’t have any singular personality types). As their sleepover goes on, their teasing starts to get nastier and nastier. They’re staying at Sophia’s new mansion, which was previously owned by a creepy artist who murdered 6 people then himself in the home. Towards the end of the night, people start to die.

horror-3

Subkoff’s film has this bizarre structure, where the first 45 to an hour of the film is just set up. The girls fight, there’s some exposition about the history of the house, and some shots of someone watching and taking pictures. #Horror doesn’t even feel like a horror movie–just a overwrought drama about horrible preteens. While i can’t say how true to life these bullying and cyberbullying scenes are, they do feel like a concerned parent imagining “what kids are like these days,” rather than an authentic depiction of preteen frenemies.

The themes are effective and Subkoff tries to hit on very realistic experiences–mean friends, neglectful parents, bulimia, etc. Her execution of these themes, however, comes off as shrill and hammering.  Part of my problem is that there isn’t one girl to latch onto. All of them are so horrible, and they support and turn on each other at the drop of a hat. I tried to get back into the headspace of a 12 year old so I could appreciate what the girls are going through–but as an adult, I can’t imagine putting up with any of this bullshit.

Visually, the film is quite interesting. The art direction of this mansion, with its horrific art and numerous rooms and locations, is stunning. Editing of the film is also quite snappy, offering a disorienting, unclear passage of time. Subkoff has a flair for visuals, but her screenplay really lets the horror out of the bag. She does a terrific job of building this world, including fun onscreen graphics, but they don’t add up to much.

In regards to the cast, Chloe Sevigny seems to be the only one who knows what kind of movie she’s in. Her performance as a boozy, entitled mom is fun and she yields some great laughs. Timothy Hutton tries to come off as a concerned dad, but he is way too over the top and without any of the intentional comedy that Sevigny’s bringing. There’s a bizarre scene where he is terrorizing the girls and he just can’t reign himself in. The six girls at the sleepover are fine, but their stock characters and dumb dialogue weigh them down. It’s hard to care about any of them because they are just too awful.

#Horror might have been more successful ifi th ad some more humor, or at least some more life to it. As it stands, it’s just a typical slasher movie with mean people being mean to more mean people. The climax is confusing; there’s no clear sense of what is going on. There’s a lot of running around, screaming, and people getting killed. I’m not one to want things over-explained. But the killings have no focus or rhyme or reason. The film feels like a lot of hints dropped, but nothing seems to stick together cohesively.

Tara Subkoff’s feature film debut has some merits. The film has a cool visual look, and features another zany performance from Chloe Sevigny. The themes are important and relevant. However #Horror ultimately does not come together to make an entertaining or memorable horror film. 

'#Horror' Won't Trend on Twitter
'#Horror' has some good parts to it, but lacks focus and memorable scares.
Rating4.5
Pros
  • Soem neat visuals
  • Relevant themes
Cons
  • Shrill, hard to watch characters
  • Overwrought, with few scares
  • Climax is poorly filmed
4.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0%

Comments

comments

Filed Under:

About The Author

Manish first came to love horror through Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Roman Polanski's Repulsion. He still sometimes has to sleep with the TV on after catching the latest scary flick. Manish loves ghost stories, psycho-thrillers and gory horror-comedies. You can check out more of Manish's writing at his personal blog "Mathur & the Marquee" or on twitter @hippogriffrider.