The fascinating dichotomy of hair is how it can be equally alluring and gross depending on where and if it is attached to the body. While the hair on our heads is generally accepted as an attractive feature, once it migrates down the body or becomes unattached from it completely – discovered in food, stuck in the drain – what was once sensual can quickly turn into something that agitates and brings discomfort for many people.
In Chaetophobia, hair stylist Claire Moore’s new film with director Benjamin Madgwick which takes the word for the fear of hair as its title, hair is everywhere. Creeping up from beneath trousers, spread out across skin, in mouths, in the soap dish and the sink, filling the bathtub, slithering up walls, hidden in a sandwich.
“We want people to see hair as an object rather than a functioning part of our anatomy,” Moore says of the hair’s at times autonomous movements. “People have so much emotion attached to their hair and think of it as a major part of their identity but, in reality, hair is just dead skin cells. I want people to question what hair means to them.”
Full of eerie, visceral tableaux that walk the line between seductive and repulsive, the experience of the film is heightened by the creaking, cracking, wet sound effects that only add to the unsettling atmosphere.
A hairdresser herself, Moore says she is constantly surrounded by other people’s hair and as such has become very comfortable with it but knows that isn’t the case for most people, especially when it's on a woman’s body. “When I was studying I would cut people's hair in my flat to make money and would be forever cleaning hair clippings. It was a part of my everyday life but I thought about how this would make most people uncomfortable and this concept has always stuck with me.”
Watch the film below.