Making a low-budget gothic music video is a double-edged sword. Sometimes you get stuck with the soul-crushing awfulness of Candy Apple Blue's "Graveyard," which was so bad that its very existence birthed the Gothic Council just to mock it.
Other times you get Town Monster's "Bela Lugosi," which was just plain awesome.
Grave Babies and their video for "Fuck Off" fall in the middle of those two examples, though far closer to the Town Monster side than Candy Apple Blue. It's a lovely lo-fi affair that perfectly matches the despairing tone of Danny Wahfeldt's Jesus and Mary Chain-esque vocals and guitar line.
Directed by Jordan Utley, it follows Elina Yakubov as a foxy curly-haired goth who wanders into a dilapidated house and falls asleep. Black latex figures surround her as she rests, caressing and molesting her. All this is shot through a grainy, early-film black and white, as if a Bauhaus album cover had become a camera.
"I fucking love the fuck out of every single Bauhaus video, but I didn't really have those in mind for this," says Utley via e-mail. "I'm glad that it landed in that neighborhood. More than anything I knew the video had to be dark, and then after talking with Danny back and forth, we agreed on a premise.
"We came to a conclusion that it had to be really fucking morose. Ouija boards, a hot goth chick and lo-fi, that was our plan," he adds. "All of the Grave Babies videos before have been filmed off of a TV, so incorporating that became a mandatory addition."
That little camera trick immerses a viewer deep in another world. It turns even more meta when Yakubov clears the dirt from the floor to reveal a static-strewn television screen. Meanwhile, a Ouija board slowly spells "fuck off."
It's a fun video to interpret, like a drug-addled film student's final project. Is she committing suicide? Is the whole thing a nightmare? Is the great beyond snarkily telling her to kill herself, or does it just want her out of its eldritch hair?
"That's up for fucking interpretation," says Utley. "I fucking feel the spiritual world would never tell anyone to fuck off. If anything, I feel like the spiritual world is intervening in a way necessary for her to learn something, allowing darkness in so that she could understand what the fuck light is.
"I guess the invitation to commit suicide is always there," he continues. "I think the spirit world will always test you to see if you're ready to open that fucking door, but in all honesty I never intended suicide to be a theme in the video. Fuck."
Whatever is behind it, "Fuck Off" is an oddly beautiful piece that is long on atmosphere. In some ways it's almost a walking cliché, but considering how long it's been since I saw a truly classic goth video made, that seems like a pretty pathetic complaint.
In the end you're left with a twisted piece of brilliance that explores the line between reality and fantasy and life and death. Check it out below.
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