Review: #HORROR

This is a tough one to place, partially because I haven’t seen anything quite like it. But that is also what makes #HORROR worth talking about.

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Directed by actress Tara Subkoff, played out by both veterans like Chloe Sevigny and a group of newcomers, this film feels like a mix of several disparate elements: video art piece, a lost episode of American Horror Story, and a very grim Breakfast Club-style dramedy. All of this comes together to tell a story about cyberbullying, the vicious nature of teenage girls who take their insecurities out on others, and the violence that results. (Sort of.)

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Let it be said that, structurally, #Horror is a mess – there is no clear story, beats are repeated over and over again, and the ending is frustratingly rushed – what could have been tense and scary is confused (but disturbing nonetheless). Many audience members will be completely turned off by this. But it seems, maybe, that this is the point.

Subkoff constructs her film to look and feel like a millennial’s subconscious. It’s flashy, fancy and sleek – the production design is stunning – and it’s also cold as hell. The Connecticut winter woods that serve as the backdrop reflect the characters themselves: pretty, but frozen and ruthless. The video art that represents social media in the film is loud, colorful, and abrasive – disturbingly so. It’s frenetic, unfocused, and crazy. Which, as a millennial, I can say isn’t wholly inaccurate.

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The sleekness is almost mocked by the brutality of the characters. They’re pure grotesque, which is another thing audience members will recoil from – they’re easy to hate. Subkoff doesn’t leave them in the dust, though. She makes it clear that these girls are hurting – and their parents, too. It’s the unjust nature of the story that does not allow them to reconcile. They destroy each other and themselves, parent and child, friend and enemy. It helps that the cast is very, very talented – especially the newcomers, who display a lot of confidence in the face of a script that doesn’t pull punches.

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I am not arguing that the film is good. That is something I haven’t decided myself. It is, however, fascinating and evocative, which is more than can be said about many films. And it’s the first horror film I’ve seen that has tackled the bizarre world of social media, along with the self-hatred that accompanies such a world, in an honest, authentic way. Tara Subkoff has created a wildly unique film – even if it doesn’t horrify or entertain, it does provoke.

My initial reaction is still confused, but I applaud #Horror for being one of the only horror offerings that has commented on the state of youth today. We need more of these films. And may they all be as frenetic, original, and strange as this one.

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