There’s a cabin in the woods and no way to call for help.
It’s a standard setup, but in Tara Subkoff’s #Horror, the cabin is a modernist glass-walled Connecticut mansion, a pretentious objet d’art in its every corner. It’s populated by six twelve-year-old girls, ostensibly friends but intent on tearing each other down in person and on social media. They dress up and take selfies, adding vicious hashtags.
The bullying veers from one target to the next, revealing itself as a way these girls defend themselves. Cat (Haley Murphy) is expelled from the house into the woods; her father (Timothy Hutton) soon rages through the house looking for her. Another, Sam (Sadie Seelert), hallucinates among the art and architecture.
First-time director Subkoff shoots even the mundane sniping in horror mode, and makes the hallucinations pay vivid dividends: The girls dance together in grotesque translucent masks; a huge painting of a hard-boiled egg looms, its yolk pulsing ominously. When the girls inevitably start getting picked off one by one, the panic hits like a clawhammer. Not every gamble works: The girls’ intrusive Bejeweled-like social-media game annoys at every turn, and the plot itself is murky. But #Horror mesmerizes nonetheless, filled with tension, cruelty, and can’t-look-away style.
Written and directed by Tara Subkoff
Opens November 20, IFC Center