Gaby Hoffmann has transitioned well as the child star of Now and Then and Field of Dreams, embracing adulthood and a career resurgence with nuanced performances for last year’s festival hit Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and her recurring role on HBO’s Girls. Hoffmann's next project is something else entirely, as she’s starring in the Rosemary’s Baby-ish horror Lyle, the first feature from writer/director Stewart Thorndike. Perhaps as interesting as the film itself, Thorndike and producer Alex Scharfman are distributing the film via online streaming…for free.
On Monday, August 4, anyone can head to the Lyle website to stream the film in its entirety at no charge. Now, it’s not completely unheard of for indie movies to hit the net first, but it usually involves something that no one would want to spend money on in the first place. (Humble opinion.) Lyle looks and sounds like a tensely manic trip into the life of a woman going through some dark changes; the kind of film that would experience a successful festival run and then goes through distributor hell for the next year and a half.
Let’s be clear that I’m not exactly sure how Lyle plays out, but that’s a good thing for this brand of psychological thriller. Hoffman plays Leah, a lesbian who moves into a new place with her partner. She gets pregnant, but strange things start to happen that make her paranoid about everyone around her, from her lover to her neighbors. And at some point, Lyle is born. My stuttered description will make more sense after watching the effectively chilling trailer below.
I’ll admit to finding things like "hidden wallpaper" freaky similar to how I feel about finding paintings hidden behind other paintings. By definition, it’s covering something up, but is it a cover-up? What the hell is happening to Leah?
Thorndike originally released the first few parts of Lyle onto YouTube, but has since taken them down. The thriller made its world premiere at this year’s Outfest, the annual Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival, where Hoffman took home the Grand Jury Prize for Actress in a U.S. Dramatic Feature. It’s not every day a horror performance takes an honor at a non-horror festival. Hoffman, known more for her comedic work, may want to dabble more in different genres if Lyle wins audiences over.
The August 4 release date for Lyle is set to coincide with Thorndike and Scharfman’s Kickstarter campaign for their next project, a film called Putney. You’ll also be able to access the campaign from the website, so if you like Lyle, be sure to check that out.