I’m frankly obsessed with this film. I’ve watched it four times. Each time I notice something new to love.
As such, it’s hard to write a review that isn’t just a blow by blow account of what happens. Or a long list of all my favourite lines, many of which wouldn’t make much sense without the context.
‘I’m a murderer, not some frenzied spree killer!’ I quote, cackling, to a group of people who have no idea where that came from.
So let’s go through why I felt both called out and tenderly held by this film…
Right from the get-go, I BLAME SOCIETY blurs the lines between realistic storytelling and bizarre, bloody fantasy. It’s filmed in a documentary style: a one-woman personal project, filled with integrity and heart. And for added integrity, it’s only filmed on the sort of cameras a young creative, drowning in student loans, could afford.
But then, in a hint of what’s to come, the director and writer is also the main actor, and she’s using her real name for this film…
Gillian Wallace Horvat is an aspiring filmmaker. Under a façade of being oh-so-happy for her more successful friends, she’s filled with envy and some rage. So when one of those friends tells her that she’d make a good murderer, she can’t let it go. She thinks it’s a compliment.
An aside: in the true crime community, ‘you’d make a good murderer’ is absolutely considered high praise. It means you’re seen as clever, resourceful, determined, and a little bit morbid.
Now, in the words of comic John Mulaney, ‘we don’t have time to unpack all of that…’ But it’s definitely a compliment I have received.
So to me, it’s completely understandable that Gillian decides to make a documentary about how she (hypothetically) would commit the (absolutely hypothetical) perfect murder.
And once the body count goes from hypothetical to real, Gillian finds out her friends were right. She is an excellent murderer. ‘Lean in, baby,’ she says, ‘I’m living my best life’.
From there, things get very violent and a little gory. But I BLAME SOCIETY always stays good fun. Gillian Wallace Horvat’s character is a big part of that. Half documentarian, half YouTube influencer, she’s got a brilliant sense of comic timing. And she knows exactly when to get ridiculous. She starts the film as this really anxious person, and to see her blossom in confidence is quite lovely, even if it is through murder.
I also loved how fantastical the film got. Every time I began to really ‘believe’ it, it threw in a detail that was just impossible. Whether it’s the copious fake blood during a self grooming accident, or the way the ‘suicide’ notes she’s leaves with her victims are narrated in voice-over by the very dead victim. I kept being reminded that all this was just pretend. That’s a risky move for a film to make, but I BLAME SOCIETY handles it so well. It lets the film get dark, but never scary.
I BLAME SOCIETY is a black comedy with a lot of genuine feeling. I loved it because I loved true crime, dark humour, and because films about filmmaking always interest me. But I also loved it because sometimes life is tiring, and you feel like you’re getting nowhere fast. And for those times, this film is positively cathartic.
Whether she’s in front of the camera or behind it, Gillian Wallace Horvat is the ‘strong female character’ I needed to see right now. And I cannot wait to see what she does next.