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LA Weekly Critic Amy Nicholson Celebrates "Mumblegore" (Article Excerpts)

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 25, 2013 at 2:40PM

LA Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson has created a new term for a subset of the indie horror genre. She's given it the catchy title of "Mumblegore." Her lengthy article, headling the Weekly this week, 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").
"Cheap Thrills"
Drafthouse Films Drafthouse Films' "Cheap Thrills"

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").  

Amy Nicholson
Amy Nicholson

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 “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.

This article is related to: News, Mumblegore, Amy Nicholson

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.