St. Vincent's Inspiration For 'XX' Is Unexpected

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Sometimes, you read something so profoundly juicy that you're sure it's going to be clickbait because it sounds too out there to be real. But no, despair not, it's true. St. Vincent made a horror short even though she's scared of horror movies. And, at this point, you're probably perplexed. What did she take for inspiration if she's too scared to watch horror movies?

St. Vincent is making her directorial debut with the film XX, a collection of horror shorts from female directors, and, in order to promote the movie, she spoke to Vulture on Feb. 15. In the piece, Vulture drops an oh-so casual aside that fills me with a strange delight:

"What The Birthday Party lacks in conventional horror — Clark says she’s too scared to watch most horror films, but cites Michael Haneke as a reference — it makes up for with its dark humor and assured sense of style."

You see, I'm terrified of horror movies, too. And I'm not exaggerating. I can't even watch kids' movies with creepy moments, like the Harry Potter series, without someone to cuddle up to. And while, if I had the choice to have something in common with someone as luminous as St. Vincent, I would have chosen her otherworldly musical talent or who she gets to sit next to at the front row of a fashion show, it still makes me feel sunny that St. Vincent, just like me, can't deal with horror movies.

And, from the sounds of the interview, St. Vincent is a resourceful woman who overcame her fear to find inspiration in charmingly unlikely places.

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Firstly, a friend's creepy anecdote about "...this woman waking up in a house with a dead body, and having to make very split-second decisions to protect the innocence of children." No explanation is given as to whether the anecdote is based on facts, but, given its horrifying content, let's hope not.

Secondly, Toilet Paper Magazine, which looks like a psychedelic fever dream in the best possible way. St. Vincent found one image that summed up everything she wanted to say in the short:

"...there was this immaculate shot of a living room, with beautiful Memphis-style Italian furniture and a rug, and there were two feet sticking out from under the rug. And that sort of encapsulates my worldview in a quick picture."

This sounds about right. The visual language St. Vincent uses in her music videos has always toed a thin line between the everyday and the unsettling.

Take, for example, her video for "Cheerleader." In the opening, we see her face against the floor in close up; we assume she's simply lying down. But as the camera pans out, we realize that, like Gulliver amongst the Lilliputians in Gulliver's Travel, she's gigantic and she's in an art gallery as an exhibit. Ropes hoist her to the feet as the tiny people, the normal people, gaze on, fascinated.

And perhaps this is why St Vincent's the perfect person to direct the horror short, despite having no appetite for horror movies. She's quick to identify moments in everyday life that are somewhere between funny and uneasy and to blow them up big until you're unsettled and you're not sure why. So no wonder one of the other sources of inspiration she cites is the way women get trained to be their own worst enemies:

"...I think there’s true horror in the way women get trained to be misogynistic. That is an overarching theme of the piece, for sure."
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In a post-Trump world, in which a group of men meet to sign an executive order that will lead "to more unplanned pregnancies, more unsafe abortions and more maternal death," according to US News, misogyny feels far more terrifying than ghouls and vampires and slashers. So maybe St. Vincent has struck on something. Perhaps the scariest horror shorts in 2017 are inspired by reality, not by the genre itself.