Bridget McGarry and Sadie Seelert at Tara Subkoff's #Horror Players Club after party Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
A glasshouse filled with artworks, including Francesco Celemente, Julian Schnabel, Rob Pruitt, Daniel Subkoff, Adam McEwen, Tabor Robak and Dan Colen, curated by Urs Fischer, is more than merely backdrop in Tara Subkoff's piercing #Horror, to what happens to six 12-year-olds (Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy, Bridget McGarry, Blue Lindeberg, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler), one wintry afternoon. While the adults, Timothy Hutton, Lydia Hearst, Chloë Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, Balthazar Getty, Taryn Manning, Stella Schnabel and Annabelle Dexter-Jones orbit in a world of their own.
#Horror 12 year olds - Museum of Modern Art premiere Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
What distinguishes #Horror from other pictures of the genre, is the sly way Subkoff balances the levels of fright - where it is fun and where it is not. The delicious shivers running down your spine when you feel completely safe and share a scary story with a friend, are as much part of the movie as the scarring dynamics that age group tends to inflict.
The sense of belonging - triggered while dancing, laughing, or swimming in synchronised formation - can be a most potent drug. What it looks like to be included and be bullied at the same time is finely explored in the direction of the girls. To top it all off - and not as a starting point, which makes all the difference - the dynamics of cruelty today are out there for all the world to see. When the things from the past that haunt are on the internet and not only in the minds of the people experiencing them, the horror reaches another level.
Tara Subkoff sporting Solange Azagury-Partridge jewelry Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
At the #Horror premiere after party at the Players Club, eerie looking spectres clutching their forlorn toy babies, a pale damsel with blood-shot eyes asking "may I take away your phone?", tarot card readers and a table with a collection of bizarre objects belonging to a "real" coven greeted the guests. In other words, the event was a 12 year old's dream come true. But you had to be careful. I picked up and rang an ancient bell from a table and was cautioned not to disturb the spirits. The line for the palm reader was longer than that for the bar.
Following their red carpet appearances, the young actresses spilled the beans on #Horror's Sam, Ava, Francesca, Georgie, Cat and Sofia at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Anne-Katrin Titze: Can you talk a little about your character?
Sadie Seelert: My character, Sam, in the film, she is new to the group of friends. She's had problems in the past with her mental stability. And throughout the film she struggles a lot with finding herself and maintaining herself. She has a hard time bonding with the girls because she's not like the rest of them. She is not as wealthy as they are, she is not as conscious about her body and what she thinks of herself and other people as they are. The whole movie, she's struggling to try and fit into this situation that she's uncomfortable in. It's a crazy journey for her.
Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Timothy Hutton and Chloë Sevigny in Proenza Schouler Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
AKT: Do you identify with parts of her at all?
Sadie: I do identify with her in the way sometimes … we all have situations where we don't fit into things and it's hard. And you just have to do your best to give your all in the situation, no matter how uncomfortable you are. And I feel like that's what she does in the situation and she commits to everything she's doing and she follows her heart throughout the film.
AKT: Do you have a favourite movie?
Sadie: Favourite horror movie or just anything?
AKT: Anything you want.
Sadie: I really love… this is really cheesy stuff that has nothing to do with a horror movie. I really love little animated Disney films - classics like Tangled and The Lorax, like funny musical comedies. In terms of horror movies, I like the movie Oculus, that was really cool. There is a whole concept of reality and not reality.
A palm reader at the Players Club Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
AKT: Each one of you has a different horror movie you like? Did you talk about this before, who picks what?
Sadie: Not at all. Tara, when we first started rehearsing, she said you all need to watch horror movies. I hadn't watched a horror movie prior to this. I don't think Blue had either. It was a new experience and we all kind of went for different things and we all are different. That's why I think the movie works so well because we all are so different and bring that to our characters.
Anne-Katrin Titze: Tell me about your character!
Blue Lindeberg: My character, Ava, she is like a pretty rich girl. Her parents don't pay too much attention to her. So she really tries to fit in with the crowd and she'd do anything to fit in with that crowd. She's kind of a bystander and what I learned from it, was, definitely it's better to be an upstander and fight for what you believe in against bullying.
AKT: Can you identify with parts of her?
Blue: Well, she's very different but it also helped me to see the contrast. Like, seeing the effects of being a spoiled girl that doesn't really know what to do.
Stella Schnabel on the #Horror red carpet Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
AKT: Do you have a favourite movie?
Blue: I do. The Shining.
Anne-Katrin Titze: Tell me about the role you are playing!
Mina Sundwall: I play Francesca. She's a little bit more edgy. She's also a little bit nicer than the other girls which makes her a little harder to pick on. She seems more confident in herself and who she is. She's also the one out of the girls that smokes and she's different.
AKT: Do you identify with that, being different?
Mina: I do definitely identify with being different. I'm very much the weird one in my group of friends.
AKT: Do you have a favourite movie? What kind of movies do you like?
Mina: Definitely. I am obsessed with horror movies which is why I float very passionately towards this movie. I am in love with Saw [directed by James Wan], the first one, more specifically. I love psychological thrillers and I think it's just the feeling that I get, the creepiness, I'm in love.
Arden Wohl with Tara Subkoff at the after party Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Anne-Katrin Titze: Can I ask you about your character?
Emma Adler: Sure. My character's name is Georgie. She is more self-conscious. She doesn't really like how she looks and she wants to fit in and she's really the catalyst as to why everything happens and how it all plays out.
AKT: Do you identify?
Emma: I do, actually. Me and my character are kind of mirrors of each other because what Georgie went through is what I went through in real life. And this movie really helped me to feel more empowered with myself and just make sure that I know how to deal with these things when they do happen - because they do happen a lot unfortunately.
AKT: Do you have a favourite movie? In general?
Emma: Yes, I do. My favourite movie is probably The Exorcist and I know this may sound a little cliché but I just love how classic it is and I love that it can be and still is so scary even though it was made so long ago. It's always going to be my favourite.
Anne-Katrin Titze: Tell me a little about your character!
Fred Armisen choking himself with Natasha Lyonne Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Haley Murphy: My character's name is Cat. She's in the group of friends but she's kind of feeling like an outsider because her friends had bullied her and so she kind of starts to bully them a little bit. And she doesn't feel bad about it because they had bullied her. She doesn't really think of herself as a bully, but she says some pretty harsh things to them. It creates a dynamic in the group.
AKT: I suppose you don't identify too much with her?
Haley laughs: No, no. I'm not a bully myself.
AKT: You don't seem like one. Do you have a favorite movie? Right now? I know these things change.
Haley: You know, I really love The Shining. Which is a horror movie. Tara actually had us watch it before we started filming. To kind of explore the genre and experience what it's like to be scared and watch how the actors worked in The Shining. It really is one of my favourite movies.
Anne-Katrin Titze: What can you tell me about your character?
A coven table at the Players Club Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Bridget McGarry: My character is Sofia Cox and she is the queen bee of the group. It takes place at her house so it's her rules. Everyone has to follow her agenda. Really sassy bossy pants.
AKT: Can you identify?
Bridget: No, but it was fun playing this character. It's very different from myself.
AKT: Do you have a favourite movie?
Bridget: I don't have a favourite movie, but my favourite horror movie is Scream. I mean, that is just an awesome movie. I love it. And then I also love The Avengers. I really love Good Will Hunting, that's such a great movie.
#Horror opened in New York at the IFC Center on November 20. The UK release date has yet to be confirmed.