Year:  2020

Director:  Gillian Wallace Horvat

Rated:  MA

Release:  May 20, 2021

Distributor: Arcadia

Running time: 85 minutes

Worth: $18.00
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Wallace Horvat, Chase Williamson, Keith Poulson

… is an utter delight from start to finish. At once cripplingly funny, bitingly satirical and entrancingly morbid…

Prior to the release of her first feature-length production, director Gillian Wallace Horvat’s filmography existed on the fringes of popular perception. Whether it’s the cracked-out early-Noboru-Iguchi-esque shorts, or her prolific run of Blu-Ray featurette documentaries (cinephiles who regularly buy from distributor Olive Films might already own some of her work without realising it), her work was either found by pure happenstance or by deliberately seeking out; an all-or-nothing fate familiar to many in the indie microbudget scene the world over. With any luck, I Blame Society will change that for Gillian.

I Blame Society manages to pull a Shape Of Water trick in how it seamlessly merges both halves of the filmmaker’s oeuvre, creating an aesthetic built equally on in-depth understanding of the filmmaking process and a willingness to use it for deliciously subversive ends. It kicks off on an incredibly salient note in how it draws connections between the traditional ‘auteur’ and a serial killer, namely the intense levels of dedication needed to prolong a career in either profession, resulting in a film where murder and cinematic art wear each other’s faces throughout.

While all the smaller details elicit quite a few chuckles (Gillian referring to breaking into someone else’s house as part of the Joseph Conrad monomyth, or a prominent T-shirt mourning the end of support for Final Cut Pro 7), the larger ambitions on display are highly enthralling. Like most true documentaries, it serves as a critique (consciously or otherwise) of the culture that allowed the events in-frame to occur. In that vein, it shares DNA strands with Promising Young Woman in how it twists typically-masculine actions and motivations (as far as mainstream cinema understands them, at least) to highlight inherent hypocrisies in everyday life. Doubly so for those in the film industry, where scrutiny ends up multiplied in the face of female creators.

As a wild depiction of artistic drive and the indie unwillingness to bend to the whims of the mainstream, it’s already bracing material. But as an even larger look at post-Weinstein film culture, where pretences of being more ‘transparent’ as an ‘ally’ only serve as the latest method to maintain the male-dominated status quo (still policing what stories women can tell, just for ostensibly different reasons), it lacerates the flesh of the industry for all to witness. It plunges shoulder-deep into the gory fun of genre filmmaking, and when it isn’t being bloody hilarious, it can get bloody gruesome, both in its graphic detail and in its observations of the world around the viscera.

I Blame Society is an utter delight from start to finish. At once cripplingly funny, bitingly satirical and entrancingly morbid, it’s a vision of indie filmmaking from the inside-out with a clenched fist in the grindhouse and the other in the arthouse. It ranks up there with Rob Savage’s Host as an example of why independent cinema is more vital now than ever before, delivering riotous entertainment and cutting observation with equal vitality. Auteur theory will never look the same again.


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