‘#Horror’ Is For Everyone, Especially Buddhist Lamas

photo courtesy of ifc films

tara subkoff discusses her directorial debut

Tara Subkoff's it-girl pack of actors and artists roamed and ruled Downtown New York in the '90s, but her latest project is about an entirely different sort of girl gang. Subkoff wrote and directed #Horror, a midnight movie about a gaggle of teens in Connecticut who torment each other in person and online. Subkoff enlisted longtime pals Chloë Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, and Stella Schnabel, as well as model-slash-heiress Lydia Hearst, Balthazar Getty, Timothy Hutton, a handful of first-time actors, and a crazy-expensive house full of fine art to pull off a chilly slasher for the millennial generation.

The writer and director hopped on the phone with us the day before #Horror played at New York City's very own horror film festival to discuss living online and the sort of shit things people say to female directors.

I feel like horror as a genre is so appropriate for being a teenage girl. It's so scary, and we forget how scary it is sometimes.
Yeah, exactly! It's probably why they're the biggest audience for horror.

Yeah, do you think? I don't know.
I actually know. It's a statistic. The biggest consumer audience for horror is girls between the ages of 11 and I think it's 26.

Did you find it particularly difficult to get into the genre as a filmmaker, or is it easier because it is genre? 
I don't think of things in those terms. It usually starts with an idea. I'm usually inspired by something that I find challenging or confusing or that makes me upset in the world, and then I want to write something around it... This actually happened because my friend's kids, who were 12 at the time, were being really badly cyberbullied, and it was so horrifying to me that it really inspired me to write about this topic. But I didn't really plan, I didn't get into it like, "I'm going to be a genre [filmmaker]," you know what I mean? I love horror. I've always loved horror. I was a big fan of the genre as a kid, and me and my brother weren't allowed to watch it, so we had to watch it at other kids' houses, and that always makes you more into something, when you're not allowed to do it. Because I came from a spiritual family of Buddhist parents and all that, so they were very against [horror movies]. Although I think it's interesting—now I'm very close with a lot of Tibetan Rinpoches, the lamas, and they love horror films! [Laughs] Yeah, they love horror. You know why? They're totally not afraid of death! They think that's inevitable. The only people who are really terrified are Westerners, not the East. It's so a part of their culture, and they accept that this life is just one page in the book, and there are many others… It's funny how scared we are of death, to them. They actually laugh [at] horror movies. They think they're hilarious. 

But anyway, growing up I was a big fan of early Wes Craven films. I used to go out, when I was very young in my 20s, with Jonathan Craven, his son, and got to hang out a bunch with Wes, and hang out at his house with all the [props] from all the horror movies he made, which is so fun. I'm a big fan of movies like The ShiningThe ExorcistThe OmenPoltergeist, and all those horror films that came out before and sort of around my time. And I love horror films when the character's flawed—they feel human and real; they're not caricatures or shallow (the drinking priest who is troubled in The Exorcist). I love that they have arcs of their own, and that it went somewhere, and they discovered things, and they were sophisticated, multi-layered films. I really wanted to make one of those.

It wasn't like, "I'm going to make a horror [film] and I really love Paranormal [Activity]." It was really more about, "I love this genre from when I was a kid, and I want to explore what it would be like to mix a modern version of a multi-layered genre film." And I [wanted to] modernize it and really have it be [about something] that feels like a horrible story—a horrible, horrible, horrible thing that's happening to so many teenagers and kids today, that's actually never happened before, so it's totally new and feels really fresh. 

You also see it with adults who are doing social justice work, or if you look at GamerGate—there are people who are being threatened, their lives are being threatened, they're chased out of their homes. It's terrifying.
Yeah, it is terrifying, and actually, I'm part of an organization called Bridg-it, which is a foundation and a project that is a digital platform like an app that just got launched into 10 schools in the New York area and is already saving lives. Basically, the founder of it, Jeff Ervine, was severely cyber-bullied as an adult, and he decided he was going to invent this to help kids. Because adults can have perspective; we're earned it. We understand that there's a time, it's really hard, you can move past that time. Kids don't. It's so new for them… When all their peers and everyone's ganging up on them and it's for all the world to see, most of them can't take it and try to commit suicide. So it's a much different thing when it happens to kids than when it happens to adults, and that's why he really tried to develop [the app]. It's a safer, easier way to report bullying.

One thing I do love about the Internet is that it allows for people who are usually outside of the mainstream and to share their stories and experiences, and there's this Tumblr—I don't know if you've seen it, but it's called Shit People Say to Women Directors
Oh, no! Come on! Seriously?

Yeah, people submit anonymously what's been said to them—like, "Where's the real director?" or …
Oh, totally. I had some guy in an interview ask me the other day, "So, how much contact did you have with the cast?" I said, "What do you mean? I'm the director!" And he's like, "Yeah, but I thought that maybe there's someone else who was…" I was confused. It was very insulting… It's definitely challenging, even though I think the more successful female directors want to pretend that they are men and that they have no problems, so that's partially why they've done so well in this industry. I don't really know if that's helping women, you know? I think it would be better to just be more honest about it, and that's what I plan to do, because I kind of can't help it. I'm always too honest. It's part of my charm, I guess, at this point. I speak pretty openly about things that I feel like aren't right in the world or in how we treat each other.

#Horror premieres Friday, November 20 in limited theaters and on demand.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.