House of Fluff, the short film written, and directed by Elizabeth Katz tells the story of the Valentine's Day party from Hell. Two roommates throw a lingerie party as an attempt to save their toxic friendship, but when one girl's trauma overtakes the night, it spirals into a nightmare fantasy. Check out the short below.
Content Warning: Sexual Assault, Violence
Thread writer, Allison Boenig, sat down with Elizabeth Katz to unpack her flirtatiously dark film.
AB: Without being too specific, what are the themes/ images/ questions that inspired you to write this film? What was the impetus?
EK: Well, firstly, the store on Bowery called House of Fluff. I hope they don’t sue me. The color red, which is passionate and violent and also the traditional expression of love. The phrase “horror fantasia” kept coming to mind. The way that people can be incredibly cruel to each other. The film The Neon Demon. The really bizarre phenomenon that is “lingerie parties” and what exactly is in the psychology of that. And on a more personal level, I think it’s me dealing with some upsetting experiences I’ve had, in an attempt to reclaim my power.
AB: Did the writing/visual story change over time, or did it mostly stay true to your initial vision?
EK: This idea first came to me a year ago, during a creative writing workshop, when I was trying to experiment with form in short fiction. It was a 10 page story that used weird sequences like, “drinkdrinkdrinkdrink dancedancedancedance,” and it was a lot of fun to write. I realized that the story was so visually clear to me, and that it would probably translate well to film. But beyond just plot, I wanted to maintain the stylized nature of the storytelling. So I started working with this stilted, performative tone, which ultimately came to mean more thematically. A lot of the details of the plot were changed around when writing the screenplay, but what was more important to me was preserving the essence of the story.
AB: Is this piece indicative of the kind of work you want to produce as a director/writer/screen actor?
EK: Definitely. “House of Fluff” is really weird and wacky and fun, but it also (hopefully) has something to say. I like going to surreal, heightened worlds, as a way of getting to the truth of something. I don’t think all of my work will be so dark, but I never want to shy away from challenging topics. I think investing in telling the story the right way will always be worth it.
AB:What was the biggest challenge in creating this piece?
EK: Oh, so many! This was truly such a labor of love. Creating the world took a lot of work (major thanks to set designer Megan McGonigle, props master Triana Jackson, and costumer Brittany Raper). Camera blocking the complicated sequences (thank you to my amazing DP Charis Swartley). Figuring out how I would direct the scenes I would also act in (lots of love to Evie Brandford-Altsher, my AD). But one of my biggest concerns was making all the actors feel comfortable on set wearing what they would to a lingerie party. Many conversations were had. Ultimately though, I was lucky to get incredible actors and extras who made the whole weekend easy and enjoyable.
AB: What would you like viewers and Thread readers to take from watching this film?
EK: One of the big things for me is that every individual’s experience of sexual trauma is different, and can often be incredibly complicated. Not all victims are saints, they can still be cruel and selfish, like Celia (my character). And another thing I’m exploring is the toxicity of hookup culture/party culture. How it forces people to minimize their pain, and accidentally inflict pain on others. I think the ending is mostly a representation of the burden that sexual trauma survivors are left with. Harmony is the one who is violent and impulsive and enraged, yet she gets up and walks away, and Celia is left to deal with it. So don’t be like Celia and Harmony. Be kind to each other.
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