Do a Shot: for my favorite line- “I got you soup, and a sandwich!”
Take a Sip: whenever Dr. White starts to lose his shit. Be patient; after the first half, he will.
Take a Sip: whenever someone says “bitches”
Take a Sip: for every dance sequence
Take a Sip: every time the art breathes
Take a Sip: whenever someone gets kicked out of the house.
By: The Cinephiliac (Three Beers) –
#Horror is a truly horrific film. Not strictly for its shocks or scares, although those are tastefully done. Its horror stems from its seamless ability to reflect the ills of our technologically dependent lifestyle as well as the terrifying affects that this can have on the younger generation who are growing up never knowing life without cellphones and 4G. This overabundance of technology has led our society into the dangerous territory of cyberbulling, a topic that #Horror visits with intelligence and creativity.
When a group of privileged young tweens decide to have a sleepover at their frenemy Sophia’s house, things get a little dangerous. Each one is emotionally wrecked with preteen feelings and raging hormones as well as parents who don’t seem to understand them or care about their whereabouts. Sophia’s mom, Alex (Chloe Sevigny), a struggling alcoholic dealing with her estranged husband’s adultery, is only mentally present half the time the girls are there. This absence allows the girls to revel in relentlessly bullying one another in an attempt to seek validation for their own egos by tearing each other down. Unbeknownst to them, a killer is lurking on the outside documenting their every move online with hashtags while racking up points. By the end of #Horror you’re left in a daze and questioning your own addiction to your phone.
“Oh. My. God! My signal just dropped!”
The social commentary of #Horror is what drives its tension. Blood and gore gets shown in snippets that are joined together by hyper-stylized, rapid fire edits emulating the fast moving pace of our social media generation. Writer and director Tara Subkoff uses her directorial feature length debut to masterfully intertwine the stillness of the environment with the quickness of the girls’ actions. At times, #Horror’s influence screams The Shining due to its concentrated establishing shots of snow and space. The home in which these girls start their bloody sleepover becomes more sinister with each exterior shot that imprints itself on screen. Likewise, long shots of the interior of the home reveal odd artworks that haphazardly breathe on their own accord. Together with the quick cuts of the girls’ usage of their phones, we can’t help but feel the tension that continues to loom with each change of perspective from the cameras, including the killer’s.
All six girls cast at the sleepover do fantastic jobs embodying the spoiled little rich brat stereotype with a chilling realness. They constantly call each other fat, dyke, poor, liars, and bitches while fervently putting on tears and defending each other from one another when their verbal attacks go “too far.” Subkoff’s screenplay plays on the girl’s lack of judgment and how to an amoral 12-year-old filled with emotions but not empathy, “going too far” is very lenient in definition. The girls possess a chemistry that is slightly disturbing considering how good they are at cutting verbal wounds into each other and licking those wounds clean moments later.
I need validation that I’m alive and matter! So I’m gonna steal your lunch money because emotions are too hard for me to handle.
Timothy Hutton embodying Al Pacino playing Nicholas Cage is probably Hutton’s best/worst acting role yet. And you thought he was incredible in Ordinary People! Actually, Hutton plays Dr. White, the widowed father to one of the girls. Dr. White’s a bit of a manic. He’s very high-strung, very clinical with his daughter, and very passionate at times. He channels Pacino most of the time by screaming incessantly instead of having conversations, but as the film continues Hutton pulls his best Nic Cage impression by going off the deep end in a rage of theatrical, over the top emotion. Honestly, Hutton’s performance is pretty fascinating, intense even. But considering I couldn’t help but laugh out loud more often than not at his shouting, I’d say the performance could have been more effective had he toned it down.
Though #Horror is undoubtedly important in its content, style, individuality, and its ability to act as a mirror to our current culture, it’s inconsistent, which is distracting to the overall story. There are a number of scenes where the girls are goofing around together which are intriguing to watch, as they seem very real and jolly, but often times these scenes go on too long, feeling alien to the story as a whole. Instead of character development, they feel like scenes of padding to add time to the length of the film.
#Horror is a chilling tale of the personal empathy we lose with the amount of screen time we gain. It puts cyberbulling at the forefront of the film, interrogating an epidemic that needs to be handled and stopped in our society. It’s easier for some of the girls to say mean things while not face to face than it is for others, and their desire to do so makes for deadly consequences, just as our desire for constant screen time can lead to dire consequences. #Horror is an important film with a strong voice and great topic to combat. Now turn off your phone for a few hours and live a little!