Film Review by Ethlie Ann Vare
LOS ANGELES, CA (The Hollywood Times) February 16, 2021, Maybe it just hits my dark comedy sweet spot, but this no-budget indie film-within-a no-budget indie film made me LOL so hard I almost fell off the chair and ROTFL for real. Think Little Shop of Horrors meets Promising Young Woman – toss in some Swimming with Sharks, add a dash of Spinal Tap and a pinch of Heathers… if this sounds like your kind of stewpot, writer/actor/director Gillian Wallace Horvat is your new best friend.
Gillian Wallace Horvat plays a cringingly self-involved millennial and aspiring filmmaker named Gillian Wallace Horvat, whose friend group is a bunch of cringingly self-involved millennials who also aspire to be Industry “creatives.” When faux-complimented that she’d make a good murderer, Gillian proposes to her best bud Chase (co-writer Chase Williamson) that she murder – well, pretend to murder — his long-time girlfriend. After all, says Gillian, we both agree that she’s really kind of a bitch, yes? Chase stares at her, aghast, and Gillian can only assume: “I’m not pitching this right.”
Williamson’s reaction shots are priceless, by the way. He and Angela Lansbury should do a scene where they just gape and side-eye each other.
We pick up the story three years later when Gillian has been, unsurprisingly, cut off by her old friend. She lives with an entry-level film editor and world-class film nerd (Keith Poulson), who wears a t-shirt emblazoned FCP 7 RIP in homage to Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing tool. This inside-baseball (inside Hollywood?) jokes abound, a basket full of Easter eggs for those who live in this world.
Abandoned by her manager and offered only unpaid spec work by a pair of truly clueless wannabe producers – I’d call it the world’s most disheartening pitch meeting, but I’ve been to too many actual pitch meetings – she tells her boyfriend that she wants to restart her documentary. He disapproves. “Do you think I’m better off sitting around doing nothing?” she pouts. “Yes,” he says.
She should have listened to him because her mock-doc quickly gets out of control. As the body count threatens to pile up, the only reason Gillian can think of not committing serial murder is “it might jeopardize my likeability as a character.” She considers what most people would label as homicidal psychosis to be “a Joseph Campbell journey.”
Wallace Horvat has previously made short films and an actual documentary about director Samuel Fuller, but this is her feature debut. Between her and Emerald Fennell of Promising Young Woman, it’s a good debut season for triple-threat women. Wallace Horvat’s onscreen persona is a heightened version of herself; yes, the real Wallace Horvat was also told she’d make a good murderer, “but all of the really immoral, illegal things are absolutely made up and nobody can prove otherwise,” winks the writer.
As an actor, she comes across like a skinny Beanie Feldstein, simultaneously awkward and cerebral. As a director, she turns iPhone and GoPro footage into a deceptively sophisticated final product, a narrative passing itself off as a cinema verité documentary about a narrative that is actually a documentary… don’t analyze. Enjoy.
Cranked Up Films presents I Blame Society
Available beginning February 12 on VOD
Starring: Gillian Wallace Horvat, Keith Poulson, Chase Williamson, Lucas Kavner, Morgan Krantz, Alexia Rasmussen, Olivia Kuan, Jennifer Kim
Directed by: Gillian Wallace Horvat
Written by: Gillian Wallace Horvat, Chase Williamson
Director of photography: Olivia Kuan
Production designer: Liz Toonkel
Editor: Sarah Beth Shapiro
Composer: Philip Beaudreau