ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

This movie, (yes, the hashtag is part of the title), is about a group of 12-year-old girls who spend the night together, bully each other, and then end up being stalked and murdered. The plot is pretty generic, but I need to give it a few points for what it tries to do. Unfortunately, I have to deduct even more points for being stupid. So when we tally up the score, this movie is firmly in the negative.

Let's look at the score in more detail. I'll be short and sweet, like the Snapchat nature of social media that the movie (kind of) satirizes.

Points in favor of the movie:

The Cast Is Interesting.

It's got indie stars Chloë Sevigny and Balthazar Getty, both who I really like. It also has Timothy Hutton, and some 12-year-old girls that are surprisingly good actresses.

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The Camera Work Is Good

Cinematographer Learan Kahanov has a cool visual perspective. The aerial snow shots, the way the camera moves through the house, the bloody tennis court. Kahanov's talent is a little rough, but it's real.

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The Set Design Works

The house itself is gorgeous, overflowing with strange but glorious art. The space is used to great effect.

Chloë Sevigny is always amazing
Chloë Sevigny is always amazing

It Tries Really Hard To Be a Commentary On Cyberbullying.

The girls do a good job of being mean to each other, and the cyber-bullying is a relevant topic.

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So that's great. But now let's look at why I had to deduct points.

The Talent Is Wasted.

Remember how I said the movie stars Chloë Sevigny and Balthazar Getty? Well, only one of them is in the movie past the opening credits. And Timothy Hutton has a terrible role; he had to be internally wincing as he said some of his lines.

The girls are really the stars of the show, but other than insulting each other, dressing up in adult clothes, and feeling sorry for themselves, they don't do much, except die.

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The Computer Effects Look Amateur

The movie is supposed to be about social media, but the actual social media scenes (and the opening credits) look more like a video game designed to kill an epileptic. And what's with the animated hashtag? You know, the one that keeps showing up to shoot or cut you? Is that a real thing, or an analogy, or is it some kind of movie "mascot" that was designed during a bad acid trip?

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The Social Media Is Not Realistic

If you are under 10 or over 40, you may think this is how social media actually works. But it doesn't. It's like some adult developed their whole concept of cyber-bullying by watching a local news story on the topic and then watched a kid push a few buttons on a phone while muttering the word "Instagram".

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The Story Makes No Sense

The only thing the girls do, throughout almost the whole movie, is verbally insult each other, even when they should be figuring out how to stay alive. Sometimes they wear creepy masks for no reason.

Why would a doctor, looking for his daughter, threaten grade school girls with a knife?

Why would a mother go to an alcoholic support program, leaving a group of preteen girls alone with open bottles of vodka laying around?

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Why where there two girls with mental problems who kept seeing things? Was that just to make it harder to figure out who was the killer? it didn't work. Actually, I ended up not caring who the killer was, I just wanted the house to be OK.

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Why was that one girl wiping her bloody hands on the glass walls that seemed to fully encompass a tennis court? And whose blood was that, anyway?

And perhaps most importantly, why did the egg art keep beating like a heart, even when the other crazy girl wasn't looking at it?

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The "moral of the story" Is Over-exaggerated And Ends Up Mocking Itself

Within the first 20 minutes, director Tara Subkoff has made it clear that she thinks everybody is too overdependent on their phones, and that bullying is bad. Then she spends the next 95 minutes repeating her point. And that little girl at the very end who gets devil eyes when the mom gives her a computer? I just burst out laughing there. Way too much overkill.

I suspect Subkoff may be a talented director, if she gets more practice - and stays away from screenwriting. But the whole movie feels like it was made by a worried mother who doesn't understand technology, who learned the word "cyber-bullying" from a parenting magazine and then joined a crusade against it, without really understanding how or why it happens.

Combine that with no real apparent interest in how horror movies work, and Subkoff sinks her own movie. What could have been an interesting, preteen slasher film ends up being an overlong After School Special with a little blood.

This is the bloodiest scene in the whole movie.
This is the bloodiest scene in the whole movie.

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