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I Blame Society ★★★



Director : Gillian Horvat

Starring : Gillian Horvat, Keith Poulson, Jennifer Kim

Released : 19th April 2021 (VOD)

That old saying ‘write what you know’ is particularly significant in filmmaker Gillian Horvat’s feature I Blame Society, a micro-budget mockumentary about trying to make it in Hollywood as a woman, the culture of celebrity and art bleeding into life.

Horvat (whose short film Kiss Kiss Fingerbang was a Grand Jury Award winner at SXSW) plays a version of herself in this meta-narrative; a filmmaker who had some early fame with edgy short films and is struggling to find her voice in an industry which refuses to take her seriously. The opening scene drips with awkwardness as she chats to her friend Chase about how she’d “theoretically” kill his girlfriend on film, which (spoiler alert) doesn’t go too well, but the idea takes root and becomes her ultimate obsession.

Three years later, she’s dumped by her manager (her screenplay is “too political,” her female lead just “not likeable”) and, for lack of anything else, finds herself falling back on the idea again. How does someone commit the perfect murder, and what are the motivations – other than just hating said person? Is there a story here, something that she can sell? Strapping a camera to her head, she films her daily interactions. There’s boyfriend Keith, an editor, who bemoans his female boss for asking him for his opinion and having to work overtime on a superhero show. There’s also a meeting with two producers who applaud her voice and talent, who are committed to developing a project with ‘a strong female lead’, but are ultimately disinterested in her own ideas and just pulled her into photoshop a pitch deck for them.

The turning point comes when she reconnects with friend Chase, only for him to die from a nut allergy in front of her. Donning a blonde wig, she literally becomes her art and steps into the role of a serial killer, a kind of black widow who is suddenly plotting how to break into people’s homes, offering sex to lure victims and stalking people she recognises from TV.

The tone is painfully dry and deadpan, the kind usually reserved for British films. Horvat’s delivery is complete marmite, you either get it and love it or you don’t and hate it. Nonetheless, the film reaches a turning point here, with its gruesome murders delivered with a smile and the satirical on-point suicide notes she writes, which include great one-liners like ‘Fred hated millennials, they just finally made him take his own life.” It’s funny and entertaining, I just wish it’d gotten there sooner.

Enthusiastic indie film obsessive & coffee addict. Follow me on twitter: @laurentbrady

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