LA Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson celebrates a subset of the indie horror genre with the catchy title of “Mumblegore.” Her lengthy cover article introduces readers to what she calls the “young misfits who are revolutionizing indie horror movies.” This includes Adam Wingard (“You’re Next”), E.L. Katz (“Cheap Thrills”), Simon Barrett (writer of “You’re Next” and “A Horrible Way to Die”) and Roxanne Benjamin (co-creator of anthology “V/H/S”).
Also included in her profile are Mumblegore mavens Ti West (“The Innkeepers”), Jacob Gentry (“Synchronicity,” “The Signal”), Amy Seimetz (“You’re Next,” “The Sacrament”), David Bruckner (“V/H/S”), AJ Bowen (“You’re Next,” “A Horrible Way to Die”) and Mumblecore veteran Joe Swanberg (“24 Exposures”).
Highlights from the piece, below.
On the indie horror revolution’s start:
But if you’re weirder still and decide to spin your love of
horror films into a career, you’re heartened to realize that it’s the easiest
genre to make. Unlike action flicks and comic book blockbusters, you don’t need
explosions and CGI. And unlike dramas and comedies, you don’t need a name star.
Jackson and his hometown friends shot his alien splatstick Bad Taste for
$26,000 — all he needed was victims and buckets of blood.
And so a generation of writers, directors, actors and
producers — all in their early to mid 30s, all based in Los Angeles — found
each other and together found their voice by making horror films. While a parallel
class of young filmmakers on the East Coast found critical acclaim directing
micro-budget mumblecore dramas, L.A.’s indie crew is carving a riskier path to
lasting success with micro-budget cerebral chillers that eschew cheap kills and
studio interference. Call it mumblegore.
On the key role festivals play for Mumblegore:
Film festivals are an odd ecosystem. Once a movie gets into
one — especially a big one like Sundance or Cannes — its cast and crew won’t
unpack their suitcases for a year. It’s a traveling circus. Every hip filmmaker
with the new, cool flick spends a 12-month cycle being flown around the world,
bumping into others just like him outside theaters from Berlin to Toronto to
Hong Kong. As these are small-budget movies, no one has much money. During the
day, they survive on free snacks at industry mixers. At night, everyone heads
to whichever party has the best open bar, and afterward, someone’s guaranteed
to suggest karaoke.
Every filmmaker has the same three goals: Sell your film,
promote your film, and make connections for the next one. It’s exhausting.
Everyone always has a cold. But a smart, young auteur whose film won’t have
1/1,000th of The Avengers’ advertising budget knows he’s responsible for
catching that next red eye and charming that 100th horror website. Plus, you
never know who you might meet — and how they might figure into your future.
On the new “drive-in era,” and why Mumblegore couldn’t have taken off a decade ago:
What’s striking isn’t just the mumblegore group’s
interconnectedness. It’s that these ties, and this creative output, couldn’t
have happened 10 years ago.
The increase of small film festivals is one factor: Throw a
dart on a map and you’ll hit a town craving extra glamour. But the main cause
is the advent of video-on-demand.
In 2003, a no-name movie had to flog DVD sales, a costly
risk for producers and its intended audience, who had to gamble $15 on a film
that could suck. Streaming services like Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Prime have
cut per-screening prices to pennies, in turn promising their subscribers a
bounty of flicks. That means producers who keeps costs low — very low — are
guaranteed to recoup their investment.
If, that is, the producers are making horror films.
“This is the new drive-in era,” says Devin Faraci, editor in
chief of BadassDigest.com. “Kids just need something to make out to, and the
easiest stuff to make and sell is going to be horror…”
Likewise, between kills, these mumblegore movies are daring
to try something different, something inspired by the flicks their filmmakers
soaked up on the festival circuit: drug-addled graphics, psychological subtext,
’80s kitsch and truly uncomfortable black humor.