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Thread: I BLAME SOCIETY (Gillian Wallace Horat 2020)

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    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    I BLAME SOCIETY (Gillian Wallace Horat 2020)



    Killer debut

    An ultra-indie feature debut by Gillian Wallace Horvat (who has made many non-fiction short films) called I Blame Society is about a frustrated young filmmaker called Gillian (herself, a distorted version thereof) who films herself really turning into a serial killer as a revenge against, well, an uncaring society and obscenely self-centered, sexist young male film producers - poisoning and/or stabbing a, well, series of men and one woman as revenge for being frustrated and ignored as a filmmaker, and also because once some friends told her she would make a good murderer.

    In the opening scene Gillian tells her friend Chace (Chace Williamson, the co-writer, in an amusing slow freakout) that she wants to shoot a film of killing his girlfriend, because she thinks she's awful. Naturally, this conversation stuns him.

    Skip forward three years, and Gillian tells her cameraperson, "I just can't sit back and wait for permission from some guy to make a movie. I've got to find a project that I can do by myself." And it's the murder project. Cameraperson can't work for nothing, though: "that won't pay my student loans." She lends her camera to Gillian, to shoot herself.

    The two producers (Lucas Kavner, Morgan Kranz, in very droll performances, another sign Horvat is good with actors), whom she stabs at the end, say at an earlier meeting she seems like a New York sensibility. No, she actually lives in L.A., in Highland Park. Perhaps she does have a hard edged New York sensibility. Or would she be strange anywhere? This begins as a talky, mumblecore creation and then after Chace dies of anaphylactic shock, caused by a food allergy Gillian has either instigated or allowed to rage untreated, she gets in front of the mirror and, cutting off her long black hair, trimming her eyebrows, remakes herself as a short-haired blonde, and the killings start coming in rapid succession, sometimes with the male victim lured by sex. They are often attractive young men. (One particularly handsome one is a pathetic homeless man, which seems incongruous, but also more provocative.)

    Horvat isn't striving for realism even as some scenes seem drawn from a snuff film. She strives for audacious absurdity and provocation. Though her film is uneven, she makes a strong impression throughout. You could see this as an extreme, giddily satiric expression of young female rage, but it never loses its cold-blooded cool. There is always emphasis on this as a film starring a filmmaker (which it is), with Gillian sometimes shooting with two smartphones, sometimes with a camera on a long stick, often with a camera on a band around her forehead so as always to be shooting, with playful shifting back from one camera angle to another. But of course there is a DP, Olivia Kuan, and she and the editor, Susan Beth Shapiro (The Art of Self Defense, Lone Survivor ), have previous feature film experience. Gillian Wallace Horvat will get more. You could call this a calling card. But it would be better to call it a big splash of red paint across the producers' doorway.

    There was an "I blame society" T shirt worn by star James Duval in Gregg Araki's movie, Totally Fucked Up. Maybe the gay Asian American provocateur was an inspiration. More directly Horvat has said the writer of Heathers, Daniel Waters, is "a huge inspiration" and has also been a mentor.

    I Blame Society, 84 mins., debuted at Rotterdam Jan. 2020, showing in 5 or so other smaller festivals including Maryland, Calgary and Eastern Oregon. Its US internet release date is Feb. 12, 2021.

    The in-your-face graphic poster (left) looks quite like a typical painting by Christopher Wool (right). Another stylish appropriation, perhaps.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-11-2021 at 10:37 AM.


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