“No film justifies hurting others, does it?” It’s a stark question that confronts a filmmaker fixated on murder poses in the pitch-black horror comedy I Blame Society. Gillian is a would-be cinematic auteur, pushing back against industry rejections and the ignorance of those that refuse to recognise her talents. She’s matter-of-fact about the obvious solution to her exclusion: she’ll combine her interest in making movies with her commitment to killing those in her life that deserve to die. When Gillian recognises that full-disclosure of her plans risks alarming those around her, she chooses a more secretive path. One that has the advantage of ensuring that both witnesses and critics are silenced.
I Blame Society is an evident labour of love for Gillian Wallace Horvat, who co-writes, directs and takes the kind of leading role which sees her character feature in every scene. Her on-screen representation of her filmmaker-self is unsparingly, delightfully spiteful. Her fictional equivalent is a bullying narcissist who’s devoid of empathy and blind to the needs of others. Some of those working in the real-world film industry might guess her character’s occupation based on that description alone, but her shocking behaviour is as much a consequence of her frustration with being blocked at every turn as it is a reflection of any innate character flaws.
What makes the film’s macabre comedy work so well is that the character of Gillian is both guileless and completely devoid of moral integrity. The effect of this stark honesty is that everyone who is able to escape her attention runs for their lives, her boyfriend included. Gillian meanwhile ensures that her own life unfolds under the watchful gaze of the camera lens. She frames the intimacies of sex and of murder with the same attentive cinematographer’s eye, narrating the drama as it unfolds.
This is an inventive and highly unusual satire on the celebrity culture of screen media, voyeurism and the business of making movies. As well as having its moments of gore, brutality and callous gallows humour, the film is bursting with meta references to the craft of movie making and the tropes and travesties of horror cinema. “Going meta” can be a mood killer, but thankfully there’s wit and intelligence in the film’s caustic reflections on art and culture.
As the body count rises, Gillian relies on the nihilistic logic of the sociopath to justify her actions. If anything, or anyone, is to blame for the loss of life that her film requires, it’s clearly the obstacles to her success that other people erect. The tiny budget and the need to rely on authentic ‘selfie’ filming motifs, makes the movie feel small scale. But the social critique in I Blame Society is far more scathing, more perceptive and infinitely better crafted than the overwrought crassness of Natural Born Killers: a movie with which it shares many of the same preoccupations.
Release Date: April 19th