Friday, April 15, 2016


Tara Subkoff

My absolute favorite kind of viewing experience is one where a film that I originally dismissed delivers something far outside of what I expected. When I first saw the trailer for #Horror, I imagined it to be only the worst kind of Lifetime Movie-of-the-Week trash, built to push the panic buttons of concerned parents everywhere. Everything about the trailer would have you believe the movie is just a cheap cash-in on the fears of cyberbullying, when in fact, it is a lush looking movie that takes a very curious route to its destination.

Opening with the prerequisite killings in the woods. We meet Cat (Haley Murphy) and her strained relationship with her father Dr. Michael White (Timothy Hutton). Cat’s mother has died recently and it isn’t sitting well with her. She is on her way to a sleepover at the huge glass fortress that her supposed friend, Sophia (Bridget McGarry) calls a home. Other girls are there too, and they immediately begin a cycle of attacking one another and posting it online. Loyalties and verbal assaults shift and flow. Eventually Cat is driven from the house. The remaining girls lock their cellphones in a safe so they don’t have to see Cat’s social media retaliation. Dr. White shows up frantically looking for his daughter when the murders begin to happen.

"We are going to look fabulous at that PETA protest thing."
A plot summary of #Horror doesn’t really capture the loopy, cut and mixed way the film presents its story. The dialogue is a rapid flurry of young girls saying the most horrid things to one another. While the look of the film is drenched in the greys and whites of winter, scene transitions are an explosion of color, emojis, and hashtags. There are often subtle distortions or movement of objects on screen that relay the fact that something is deeply wrong in the world of #Horror.

I’m not sure if the movie’s third act is deliberately choppy or there was some late editing to try and pull it all together. Things begin to feel muddled and as a result the film loses a lot of its momentum which unfortunately extends all the way to its climax. The film almost has enough energy to power through, but I feel like it can’t quite pull it off in the end.

This looks like the weirdest presidential debate ever.
#Horror isn’t an especially gory film, there is a little bloodletting but it is more interested in trading on strange images and design choices meant to create a sense of unease. The bulk of the film takes place in a large mansion with tall glass windows and is filled with bizarre art. I think it is interesting that I found the absolute cruelty with which this mob of twelve year old girls engage in was far more disturbing than any of the murders that took place. As much as the focus of the film is on these girls, Dr. White comes across just as unhinged as we see a grown man lay into these children with his fury.

Judging from a lot of negative reviews I see for #Horror, many people don’t appreciate going into a slasher film only to be tossed into something more akin to an art film. I can understand that, but I think if you approach it on its own terms, #Horror is an interesting although flawed approach to what could have been a pretty rote story.

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