Hot girl horror taking on the digital age
Because what's more terrifying than a house full of influencers?
words Megan Wallace
Twitter spirals and TikTok blackholes don't have the best impact on your mental wellbeing, what with excessive social media use linked to stress, anxiety and depression. We even have a whole weekly culture round-up dedicated to helping you get off your phone and into all the splendour that the arts has to offer.
If you're not ready to go on a digital detox yet, it can help to face the dark side of social media head-on and we've got just the thing. There's a growing number of films that explore the pitfalls of the Very Online age through the horror, dark comedy and thriller genres - and they definitely deserve a watch. Our thinking? They might well help us exorcise digital demons like flop posts, influencers with an agenda and digital character assassination, with all the energy usually reserved for ghosts and ghouls. Given that spooky season is officially upon us, there's no better time for it.
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
Some elements of A24 flick Bodies, Bodies, Bodies might be familiar, we'll give it that. A secluded house? Check. A blood-thirsty game during a sudden and convenient power cut? Check. An extraordinarily good-looking friendship group? Most certainly check. Building on these essential slasher ingredients, the horror film helmed by the likes of Amandla Stenberg, Pete Davidson and Rachel Sennott has its own unique character: soundtracked by Charli XCX at her snarkiest, it's influencers fighting for their lives in this house on the hill. Wish them luck!
Before Sam Levinson made Euphoria, he gifted us with Assassination Nation. This gory thriller-satire is basically a Tumblr-generated version of The Purge. Helmed by 2010s alt girl icons Hari Nef and Abra, the film follows the aptly-named town Salem as it spirals into violence and chaos following hacks that reveal its citizens' cyber secrets. Is it bad we can kind of imagine this happening IRL?
One of the few films about sex workers actually written by a sex worker, Netflix thriller CAM was penned by Isa Mazzei and stars Orange Is the New Black's Madeline Brewer. The basic premise is this: once rising cam girl Alice fakes a snuff film on livestream, her account is inexplicably taken over by a creepy, cyborgian doppelgänger. What ensues is a tense, moody thriller as she attempts to seek out the truth. If you fancy a less gory take on the camming industry, be sure to check out Numa Perrier's Jezebel or the Julia Fox-starring neo-noir PVT Chat.
Remember Aziah "Zola" King's viral Twitter thread from 2015, all about a chaotic journey to Tampa with fellow stripper and "white bitch" Jessica? Well, the social media saga got the Hollywood treatment in the Janicza Bravo-directed Zola, where it unfolds as a troubling tale of human trafficking, cultural appropriation and exploitation, set against an unsettling, twinkling score by Mica Levi. Oh, and did we mention it was written by Jeremy O Harris? Not exactly a horror per se, but a trip from Hell, that's for sure.
Triangle of Sadness
A gross-out, dark comedy by Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness (or "No Filter", as per its French name) sees all social hierarchy upended when a luxury cruise frequented by influencer couple Yaya (the late Charlbi Dean Kriek) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) is attacked by murderous pirates and ultimately sinks à la Titanic, stranding all remaining passengers and crew on a desert island. Basically, it's Lord of the Flies (or Yellowjackets, for those that don't like to read) but with spon-con...
In the tradition of horror movies like Unfriended (told, ingeniously, through a computer screen) and Friend Request (which suggests evil spirits are out to cyber bully you) comes Host. Set and filmed during the 2020 lockdown, the micro-budget film tells the tale of a digital seance gone wrong and was shot entirely through Zoom. As if memories of the pandemic weren't frightening enough...