Yikes! The name Gillian Wallace Horvat was previously unknown to me, but she lands in movies with a proverbial splash with dark, dark, dark comedy I Blame Society, which hit UK screens via Vertigo Entertainment last week. Very much the kind of movie that I feared Promising Young Woman might be, Horvat’s movie riffs very much on the American Psycho vibe as we follow a young actress researching how easy it would be to murder her enemies. That’s not new ground, but Horvat’s approach is box fresh, and the jet-black result is definitely worth a look.
We’re blurring lines here, so Gillian Wallace Horvat plays film-maker Gillian, who starts a project called “I Murderer’ when some friends suggest that she’s got the right mind-set for the business-end of killing. Gillian is persuaded to abandon the project, but resurrects it several years later, where is provides an obstacle to her relationship with her editor boyfriend Keith (Keith Poulson). Gillian has a number of people in her life that, in her humble opinion, would be better off dead, and so I Blame Society kicks into gear as Gillian turns over a new leaf by killing them all and letting God sort them out at the other end.
This kind of comedy goes back via Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer to the rather more genteel Kind Hearts and Coronets, which hit Broadway as the Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. It’s worth noting that all of these previous incarnations revolve around a male protagonist, presumably with the creators feeling that there’s enough crossed-wires in the male psyche to make the idea fly. There’s enough crossed wires in a female psyche to make the same idea all too credible, Horvat suggests, and I Blame Society manages to exhume a certain mordant humour as Gillian goes from retiring wall-flower to murderous moll.
There’s some ingenious scenes which reflect Gillian’s obnoxious, self-aggrandising desire to realise her dreams; one in which her interview is disrupted by a long shot which reveals the mechanism by which she’s controlling the camera dolly by a pulley-system as she talks. I Blame Society could use a few more actual visual gags like this, but it’s clear that Horvat has talent to burn, and even if the invention falters in the face of some rather predictable tropes before the 81 minutes is up, I Blame Society is certainly an auspicious debut for Horvat, whose dissection of the barriers faced by female film-makers is timely and well-expressed. And a framing scene involving two awful studio-execs (Lucas Kavner and Morgan Krantz) catches just the right vibe; hopefully Horvat gets some better meetings on the back of this lacerating, fun-if-you-can-take-it comedy.
Blue Finch Film Releasing presents I Blame Society in the UK on Digital Download Now.