Being a preteen/teenager has always been considered one of the most challenging periods of life. Kids can be downright cruel to one another. Today that cruelty is amplified thanks to the power of social media. Bullies can now share taunts and insults not only with their friends, but with the entire world. There is also a growing issue with attachment to mobile devices, where parents and kids interact through their devices rather than face-to-face. The issue of mobile device addiction, cyber bullying, and the trials of adolescence make up the core of #Horror.
A group of twelve year old girls get together for an overnight that turns deadly after the group cyberbullies one of their own using a popular social media game. Writer and Director Tara Subkoff brings a unique style that I think will appeal to the younger crowd.
Popup bubbles are used to represent what people are doing on their phones, many times between two characters who are in the same scene. This gave it a real world feeling and further pushed home the idea of the disconnect between people. Interspersed throughout the movie are wild and colorful montage screens that are meant to represent the social media game being used by the characters. At first these scenes are a rather comical, but as the film goes on they take on a more dark and foreboding feeling, giving you glimpses of things to come.
These animated sequences are not the only window to the horrors ahead. There are a few scenes in the beginning that seem out of place. If the viewer is paying attention they will discover these scenes belong in the timeline. I have a feeling this may cause a bit of confusion for the the viewer, but it is effective in keeping the audience interested in what is going on.
The location for the film is fantastic and adds a lot to the atmosphere. The unusual artwork gives the mansion its own identity and the place becomes another character in the movie. The cinematography is gorgeous throughout the film and helps to create a feeling of isolation.
The group of girls are intentionally unlikeable. Each girl represented a young social media user archetype. For example, Sofia gets to do and say pretty much anything she wants about the other girls and they put up with it because she is the popular and spoiled queen bee. Georgie is mean to others because she is not happy in her own skin. Sam, the only girl not from a rich family, appears to be with the group because she wants to fit in. Many people of all ages can relate to this situation.
One of my favorite parts is when the girls choose to put their phones down. During these scenes, they act more like regular teenagers. This scene makes the girls a little more likeable, at least enough to not want anything bad to happen to them.
All the young actresses played their parts well. The bullying scenes are particularly disturbing and brutal. Subkoff shows us that words can cut deeper than any knife. I enjoyed watching Timothy Hutton and Chloe Sevigny. They do not get a large amount of screen time but they put in top notch performances. Timothy has a particularly strong monologue that gave me chills.
I have always enjoyed when horror movies are used to address current issues within our culture. In a world where it seems like every other horror film wants to live in the past, Subkoff gives us a modern horror that speaks to this generation. It casts a light on the horror of cyber bullying as well as the affects mobile devices have one interpersonal relationships. IT also touches on how parents behavior can affect their children. #Horror is a #mustsee that will have viewers tweeting emoji smiley faces and O.M.G.s after it is released November 20th.