You listen to the branches crack around you as the footsteps linger closer and closer. There's a faint light at the end of the tunnel, but the trees are scattered like towers in the endless depths. Trickles of blood is constantly streaming down your face and body as if they were currents in the river. Trying hard not to breathe loudly, headlights flash at you as a woman with snake-like eyes dart at your trembling persona. Dressed as if she just came from the hills of Old Hollywood, she signals her two men. They try to grab you by the hair, but you escape in time to make your escape towards the light. Everything blurs around you as you run from your demons, repeating the same dance of ultraviolence once again.
I'll admit that everyone's fascination with the 80s is starting to get tiring. But there's something so attractive about it that has me coming back for more. I didn't exist in the 80s, but I always appreciated the culture that surrounded it. After finishing "Majesty," I wanted to appropriate more of said culture and double down on the camp slasher I've always dreamed of.
To be honest there's also the notion that this is the first shoot that I've wanted to stray away from the trauma of my personal life. It's a new decade – I wanted to let go of that baggage and what better way of doing that than to do a completely batshit shoot involving lots and lots of blood? It's a rebirth era of sorts – I'm back on my nonsense and I'm growing up in the best way.
Every idea starts with a song. Whenever I get really into a track, my brain automatically wires itself to imagine the visuals that surround it. Music can really elevate a moment so I delved into what makes the 80s synths so alluring. Through listening to music that made it seem like I was transported to a Halloween Club orgy, I was able to guide the visuals of "ULTRAVIOLENCE" to its fruition. From there, I looked at media that was inspired by the 80s and tried to see what I can make out of it. From the moment I saw the "Uncut Gems" poster, I immediately fell in love with it. It's probably the least original image out of this entire shot, but it's simplicity and grittiness struck a chord with me unlike any other.
I didn't realize how annoying fake blood could be and poor Yassmin was in charge of splashing it on everyone. The reaction after seeing our hands still covered in red after the first wash was traumatizing and I'm pretty sure all of us still have the stains today. I'm still trying to forget the dread of a red spot splashing onto my family's white walls.
I casted Calvin and Osé as the two henchmen. I always wanted to have a picture of them together and their duality (Calvin accuses me for saying their "Rush Hour" energy) illuminates off the screen. Fatima was heavily inspired by Lady Gaga's Countess from "American Horror Story" through her cold looks and heavy focus on clean kills while wearing high fashion. The bloodiest of them all was Ariana who I deemed the "final girl." For some reason the 80s had this fixation over the final girl being dressed in the most "Betty Cooper" way, but in this one at least she's not white.
"Nobody is a villain in their story."
Directed and photographed by Ricky Lam
Starring Calvin Hoang, Osé Djan, Fatima Tauqir, and Ariana Islam
Assisted by Yassmin Shamma and Parisa Sorbi