Listen. LISTEN. There is a new horror movie out right this very minute called Lyle that takes its cue from Rosemary’s Baby, and you must see it as soon as humanly possible. Should you not be one to follow simple orders without detailed explanation, I offer you six reasons to do so below.
Before delving into my six reasons, though, I should tell you that you can watch this brilliant, female-directed, female-driven horror film for FREE just by going to lylemovie.com. The film has been released free of charge in conjunction with a Kickstarter campaign that will fuel the creation of two more female-driven horror films by the same writer/director (Stewart Thorndike, who you’ll meet in my very first point). The next film, which will be funded by the Kickstarter, is called Putney — it centers around a haunted Ted Talk.
YOU HEARD ME RIGHT. A HAUNTED TED TALK. GET OUT OF MY FACE.
Anyhow… here are six reasons why you should stop whatever you’re doing and watch Lyle:
1. Stewart F*cking Thorndike
Stewart Thorndike, whose middle name isn’t officially ‘Fucking,’ is the female writer and director of Lyle. Now, we all know that there could stand to be more women in most areas of business, and the world of movies is certainly one of them. With a staggering number of movies consistently failing the Bechdel test each year, it is still unfortunately an exciting and important thing to have films where female characters are not only given names, but who also speak to each other about something other than a man! What’s more, the genre of horror is an exceptionally male-dominated space, and Thorndike’s mission doesn’t end with Lyle — in fact, this powerfully-written and directed film is her first in a planned trifecta of female-driven horror movies. Next up is a horror film called Putney, which centers around a haunted TED Talk. I think I told you earlier in relation to this point: get out of my face (and go help fund this thing).
Ughhhhh, every goddamn shot in this goddamn movie is goddamn gorgeous. Confession: I am not an expert on cinematography; I cannot name famous filmmakers and styles of shooting for your reference. However, I love beautiful, hand-crafted things, and I have, despite my lack of film school, noticed how so many of the movies we see today are not interested in exploring the power of color, lighting, and visual aesthetic. Lyle is the antithesis of this sort of cinema-laziness, with each moment punching your eyeballs in with the sheer force of its beauty. There was a particular scene in the film, where Gaby Hoffman is slowly, simply, unpacking a box, while Lyle plays in the background. I turned to my wife while watching, paused the movie, asked her how such a simple thing could be so breathtakingly beautiful — two human beings in a nearly-empty apartment, and I felt as though any still from the scene (and every other in the film) could have been hanging in a museum.
3. Gaby F*cking Hoffman
WELL, SHIT. You guys undoubtedly remember Gaby Hoffman from our collective shared childhood experience watching movies like Field of Dreams and Uncle Buck and Now and Then (!!!), annnnd you may also know her from this really indie, underground show called Girls. She also just finished shooting on Amazon’s upcoming series, Transparent.
In Lyle, Hoffman seems to channel every badass bone in her body to deliver a stunning, tragic performance as Lyle’s mother, Leah. What’s more, she chose the project despite the fact that the film’s budget only had room to pay her $100 for each day of shooting. In an interview with The Guardian, Hoffman explains, “What I prefer is good writing and smart people — wherever that is found, and that is found all over the place in terms of budget — that’s where I tend to want to be.”
4. Impactful Brevity
At a running-time of 65 minutes, you can fit three Lyles into one Blue is the Warmest Color. To that I say: Alleluia. Lyle was originally conceptualized as a horror webseries, but writer/director Thorndike realized during filming that she preferred it as one, fluid piece. What we get as the audience is a story told exactly as its creator intended, with a powerful complexity that lasts far past the initial hour of viewing. The musical score follows suit, delivering a bone-chilling backdrop of stark piano notes. Incredible how 65 minutes and a few piano chords can make you hide under your own bed at age 33…
5. Ghosts Don’t Discriminate
You know what rules? What rules is when a movie has queer characters (Leah is married to June, played by F to 7th’s Ingrid Jungermann) who, instead of dealing primarily or exclusively with being-gay-gay-stuff, have to face everyday-life struggles such as terror, possession, and hauntings. Thorndike told Tribeca Films, “When I first thought of the idea for Lyle, I thought it would be interesting to make a genre film with a lesbian couple, where the story wasn’t about how hard it is to be gay. I really wanted that.” Lucky for her, since ghosts have been equal opportunity haunters since the dawn of time. Bra-fucking-vo.
6. Because We Will Watch It
Thorndike has been repeatedly told by bigger-budget film-humans that there simply isn’t an audience for female-driven horror films. Say what?! Oh, sure… women don’t want to see themselves in horror films just like they all love to cook pot roasts while wearing sexy lingerie. When I asked Thorndike how she knew there was an audience, she replied, simply, “I know there’s an audience for people wanting female driven genre films because I want them.” You and me both, Stewart. YOU AND ME BOTH.
So, there you have them. My six points.
Not only do I personally want more films like Lyle, but I think we’d be better served with more humans like Thorndike sitting in the writer/director seat. So, go watch the movie. Love the movie. Hide under your bed. Et cetera.
Then, do what people do these days when they love something (which you inevitably will):
Share the movie, share the Kickstarter campaign, and support Thorndike’s future work by donating. Let’s all enjoy Lyle and support Putney, yes… but more so, let’s show the universe that, undoubtedly, there is an audience for female-driven horror. Even if we are watching the film while cooking a pot roast in our sexy lingerie.
PS: There are six points on this list. Each title has six syllables. Each point has six explanatory sentences. You are welcome, you’ve been tricked, you are probably now possessed. If I knew how to make the sixes drip blood using HTML code, I would.
PPS: Despite always knowing that my mother’s name is Rosemary, it was only upon writing this piece that I realized that makes me Rosemary’s Baby.
*creepy piano music, fade to black*