On August 4th, director Stewart Thorndike and producer Alex Scharfman put LYLE online for free in conjunction with the start of their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their next project, Putney. The idea behind these films is that they are female driven horror flicks in which the protagonist’s clothes stay on for the most part. The type of film that is few and far between, and apparently not in demand—hence why the talented Thorndike is having to crowdfund her next project.
As a horror buff I was especially excited by this take on Rosemary’s Baby which stars the wonderful Gaby Hoffman whom you may recognise as Adam’s unstable sister in Girls. The role was apparently written specifically for Gaby, and earned her the Grand Jury Prize for Best Actress at “Outfest,” while the film has received a fair bit of critical acclaim in itself. This film came as a relief as, to be honest, if an independent film is being distributed for free it can often mean that it’s simply not worth paying for.
After a day of tentatively refreshing the www.LYLEmovie.com page waiting for it to go live, I can tell you it is worth paying for. The film is shot stylishly, it is all incredibly low key, and was, of course, produced on a low budget. But the simplicity of the implied horror in this film makes it work. It is the simple things in this film that make you feel unsettled: hidden wallpaper and little footsteps sounding down hallways. There is also a hauntingly unnerving scene that plays out on Skype which takes full advantage of bad signal and delayed response to really get the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention. Hoffman gives a fantastic portrayal of a woman on the edge of madness, and the film does well to remain ambiguous about what is true and what is paranoid delusion.
So Putney, the project that the free distribution of LYLE is raising money for, is planned to be the second in a series of three female led horror films. The film will take place in a hotel where some estranged friends go together to reconnect after being inspired by a TED talk. Alas things start to get odd and as they watch the TED talk over again its inspirational messages become more sinister. This is a brilliant and current idea—a haunted TED talk, why the heck not?
So now the waiting game begins, can this Kickstarter campaign prove that there is a market for female led horror that is not sexually exploitative? Perhaps I’m biased as I love horror, low budget indie films, and Gaby Hoffman, but I thought LYLE was brilliant. Even though it may not be doing something groundbreaking in terms of plot, it delivers an interesting piece of psychological horror with stylish and well thought out shots along with great performances from the cast. Why wouldn’t there be a market for that? If you’re feeling generous you can donate a bit of cash and get yourself a Blu-ray, a piece of set or just some peace of mind, but either way if you need a bit of creepiness in your day go check out LYLE.