After seeing IFC Midnight drop a trailer for a film entitled #Horror, I could not help myself from desiring to see it. There are countless horror films released each week on a variety of VoD platforms, but very few ever contain any notable actors. This is not the case with actress-turned-director Tara Subkoff’s director debut. #Horror boasts a cast that features the likes of a chain-smoking Chloë Sevigny, the insane, but underused Timothy Hutton, a brief appearance from Natasha Lyonne and Taryn Manning, and an entirely new group of teenage actresses.
Subkoff takes the route of satire from the very first few moments of the film. Mainly focusing on teenager’s profuse addiction to technology and how it is dehumanizing everyone’s social interactions with one another, Subkoff takes the bluntest route imaginable. Often insufferably direct in its approach, the satire rarely finds any comedic sensibility to make these pre-teenage girls that are relentlessly complaining and fighting with each other enjoyable for any viewer to enjoy. Subkoff appeared to be relying on the natural talent of her young actresses a little too much. Unfortunately, her cast does not have the acting chops to elevate her material to even a remotely worthwhile satire.
Luckily, #Horror does provide some actual humor, mostly coming from Sevigny. Her intense commitment to her role as an incredibly wealthy suburban mother is spot-on. The reason Sevigny’s character works so much better in terms of satire compared to the girls is because Subkoff uses restraint in her character. Sevigny’s is not overboard to the point of excess, whereas the group of girls is clearly that. The girls’ lines are blatantly written to coincide with Subkoff’s intended commentary at that moment in time to the point where the satire just becomes painstakingly unfunny.
Ultimately, #Horror is at least better than its title makes it out to be, but not by much, sadly. Outside of Sevigny and Hutton’s brief, but stellar performances, the most redeeming quality to this is the cinematography that meticulously lays out the palatial estate that we spend almost all of the film inside. If Subkoff were to have spent some more time tightening up the satire of her screenplay, #Horror might have gone down as one of the few satires worthy of merit this year.