This artistic thriller starts out incredibly promising but ends up as an incoherent mess of bad pacing, nonsensical plot “twists”, and terrible editing.
Featuring a compelling ensemble cast, a trendy title, and Tara Subkoff’s directorial debut, “#Horror” is intriguing to say the least. Unfortunately, it seems as if Subkoff, who also wrote the screenplay, focused all her energy into the setup and none into the payoff.
As the story opens we are quickly introduced to a group of six affluent teenage girls: Sam (Sadie Seelert), Georgie (Emma Adler), Sofia (Bridget McGarry), Francesca (Mina Sundwall), Cat (Haley Murphy) and Ava (Blue Lindeberg). They’ve all gathered for a sleepover at Sofia Cox’s house, the most well-to-do of them all. The Cox Residence is a character almost unto itself. A work of art inside and out and so large that each member of the family has a wing to themselves and we are immediately drawn in. Her philandering father is rarely around leaving her mother in a chronic state of bitterness.
Sam is one of the last to arrive at the soiree due to asking her mother (Natasha Lyonne) in a painfully short role) to stop the car a few blocks away. These young mean girls already have enough ammo to verbally abuse her with, the last thing they need is to know how hard they have it financially. At this fragile age, the prime concern in life is what your peers think of you.
Once the girls are together the movie drops into a repeating cycle of actions: They get into something (clothes, jewelry, alcohol), upload numerous photos to a social media game (*more on that later), get bored and start insulting one another until one of them cracks and starts crying. The dialog during these scenes is interesting. Half of the things they say sting with realism, the other half are jarringly plot driving, making no sense except to move the story in the direction Subkoff is forcing it. Having commented on being bullied during her youth, these moments of truth are likely lifted directly from Subkoff’s past. It must also be why the film says it’s based on “shocking true events” when absolutely nothing else rings true.
It’s at this point the film begins to drag. Everything has been established, but nothing new happens for at least 30 minutes. Instead the audience is subjected to repetitive pre-teen bitching and garish graphics from the social media game they are playing. The game is an obvious metaphor for social media and popularity in general. They score “points” based on what they post to the internet. Like any addicted gamer, they are constantly striving for additional “points”, regardless of the damage it could cause. But why is it featured so prominently and annoyingly in this film? The graphics are ugly, the sound effects are loud and irritating, and the random flashes of violent photos seem so out of place. In addition, we are treated to occasional unexplained video clips taken from a secret voyeur. Are these clips being uploaded as well? To the game or somewhere else? How is it relevant to the story at all?
You may think all would be made clear by the end of the film, but you would be incorrect. The climax has so many problems it’s exasperating. In a feeble attempt to create tension, the editing is so clunky we completely lose track of which characters are where and what they are doing. During some of the kills the camera work is so bad it is completely impossible to tell what’s going on.
“#Horror” has three distinct acts, but each could have come from a different director. Act I is beautiful, as Subkoff puts her art and fashion background to maximum use. Shots linger, bright reds accent near monochromatic backgrounds, clothing and accessories are unique and eye catching. Act II is dull. Teenage girls doing teenage things for far too long. Act III is a disjointed mess with zero redeeming qualities. Not even a pulsating egg on an oversized portrait of Marilyn Monroe could save it. (yup.. that’s a thing)