VENTS Magazine landed the first interview with Director Rob Lambert regarding his controversial, compelling feature drama, Cuck. The film presents a gritty, voyeuristic glimpse at online extremism, social isolation, and the toxicity and anger behind lone male shooters. Lambert is known for his dark, character-driven material, including the award-winning short film, Los Niños Sicarios. Co-written by Lambert and Joe Varkle, the script for Cuck generated buzz on the Black List and has attracted a diverse ensemble. Rising star Zachary Ray Sherman plays the lead as a troubled, frustrated young loner alongside Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kirkland, Monique Parent, Timothy V. Murphy, and David Diaan.
VENTS: Tell us about the actual events and/or people who inspired your timely feature film, CUCK.
LAMBERT: I’m a huge fan of gritty character studies. Films like Snowtown Murders, Straight Time, Taxi Driver, Thief – those are the kinds of stories and visual aesthetics I’m drawn to. Realistic stories about loners living on the fringe. It’s clear that the most dangerous young loners today are these lone wolf shooters — Dylann Roof, Nikolas Cruz, Devin Kelley, and Elliot Rodger types. There are countless others, many with remarkable similarities. My writing partner (Co-Writer/Producer) Joe Varkle and I set out to write a script that captures the elements of what make up these confused, angry young men. What do they have in common and what is the core of their anger? The lead character in our script is a combination of many of these young men.
VENTS: And what does the title, CUCK mean?
LAMBERT: The word cuck is an insult that seems to hold a lot of weight, with both social and political relevance. Cuck is short for cuckold, basically the husband of an adulterous wife. It can be taken further to describe a husband or partner who watches/enjoys/participates in his wife having sex with another man. The more humiliation and degradation he endures, the better. Being a cuck has now been fetishized into a popular form of pornography, often playing on racial stereotypes. It is also a way to tell someone they gave their power away, usually as a way to mock a man’s masculinity. It picked up steam in the last few years and was used by far right conservatives during the presidential election as a way to put down men or Liberals voting for Hillary Clinton. Exploring the word and its meaning gave us several avenues to touch on various timely topics, like sexual frustration, political recruitment, and online shaming. It’s amazing how many different social nerves this word touches today.
VENTS: You conducted extensive research for this film — what did you learn about lone shooters?
LAMBERT: When Joe and I dug into these stories as they came up, it was amazing to see the similarities between these young men. They all seem to be easily manipulated, falling in line with online extremist groups that finally give them something to believe in. Much of what they learn and the anger they feel can be charted by their online activity.There’s a prevailing idea that economic stress caused by outside groups is taking away the American Dream. Their anger is also often directed at women, fueled by sexual frustration. There is a surge of groups online that identify as INCEL, or “Involuntary Celibates.” The anger and loneliness on these incel chat rooms is real. With social pressure to be macho but no healthy outlet for it, these young men often create a tough alter ego online which gives them a boost of confidence. It’s typical to find that these young men, who are anti social and meek in their day-to-day lives, are the loudest and angriest online. Another commonality is often an unhealthy childhood which usually includes some type of unchecked mental health issue. Obsession with the military is also something that many of these young men share. They don’t usually qualify for the military but it doesn’t stop them from fantasizing about being patriots and protecting their country. It’s a mix of these ingredients that make up a lone wolf shooter.
VENTS: Do you have a politically-driven agenda with this film? Are you attempting to influence viewers one way or the other regarding gun control?
LAMBERT: I didn’t set out to make a political film, and I don’t like films that are trying to influence me. As a filmmaker I strive to make presentational films versus propaganda films, however this subject and film will undoubtedly move and upset a lot of people. From my perspective, we made a movie based on real stories, paralleling real life and the events that play out in real time, month after month. I believe that pulling the curtain back on the root of this anger and confusion is a way to deal with the issues head on. My personal thoughts on the gun control issue aligns with common sense: unstable people with violent tendencies should not have access to tools used for killing. It’s unbelievable that someone like Nikolas Cruz was able to purchase an AR-15. My hope is that our film opens people up to a discourse on what can be done to reach these lost boys before they strike.
VENTS: Tell us about your other projects.
LAMBERT: I’m currently working with a studio developing a series I created called LOS NIÑOS SICARIOS. Based on real events, the series explores the world of American-born teenage hitmen working for Mexican Drug cartels along the southwestern border states. And just to show that I’m not all dark and gloomy, I’m also pitching a music-documentary series and pilot, Breaking: LA, which follows Los Angeles based musicians on the cusp of stardom!