Satire is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it; you get it or you don’t. It is an exact science. Indisputable. Gillian Wallace Horvat‘s I Blame Society is no exception to the rule.
Told in a mockumentary format and through its guerrilla approach to filmmaking, this self-aware, self-referential black comedy is intrepid; taking its themes and subject matter to the deepest of waters. Dispensed and executed through the feminist lens.
Triple threat talent Gillian Wallace Horvat, acts, writes and directs, playing a fictionalised version of herself – a struggling independent filmmaker who is surrounded by a rapidly decreasing network of peers who are losing faith in her integrity. Deciding to prove her creative worth to not only her doubters but herself, Gillian crosses a line by documenting and theorising how she would snuff her best friend’s insufferable girlfriend. In her sincere but muddled escapade, Gillian realises, why stop at just one murder when Hollywood is plentiful in disagreeable potential candidates and long overdue a cleanse?
The relentless cynical, nihilistic cleverness of this breezy, smooth-flowing picture is pinprick-sharp. Horvat portrays an unhinged, stark raving mad version of herself that is yet oddly charming and irresistibly likeable. Gillian and her M.O. could be likened to that of yuppie, Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron‘s prototypical American Psycho. There are even scenes that graciously borrow from the Bateman/American Psycho wheelhouse – involving a makeover/self-care therapy session, a stint of some raunchy hanky-panky being recorded on video, and a scene involving a homeless person meeting their untimely demise.
The more feminist-leaning satire could and absolutely should be rivalling the acclaimed provocativeness of Carey Mulligan in Emerald Fennell‘s Promising Young Woman. Truthfully, Horvat is an outright marvel! Her quasi-Cassie Thomas/quasi-Bateman semblance makes for some excruciatingly awkward and uncomfortable on-screen moments, mostly involving the inarticulate, deceitful and backpedaling men of the film who assert themselves as “feminist allies” – unsurprisingly. As a male, I couldn’t help but nervously laugh amidst the cringeworthy calamity of it all.
At face value, I Blame Society could be compared to the 2020’s gonzo Spree – depicting the struggle of an artist having difficulty getting their venture to gain recognition without making drastic changes. Murder, infamy and all things taboo acclimate stardom. The only difference being that Horvat‘s character belongs to Generation Y; a millennial. Mercifully, eliminating social media from playing any role in the development of Gillian’s creative climb. Both films share an on-screen representation of individuals with sociopathic behaviour who are willing to go to utmost lengths to artistically progress and how they lose almost all of their rhyme, reason and rationality along the way.
Perhaps the films biggest strength is its self-assured, “f**k you!” punk attitude and swagger. Horvat and co-writer (and also co-star) Chase Williams have produced something that simply would no longer be mass manufactured within Tinsel Town without being heavily watered-down and desensitised in the fear of causing a social injustice. It’s audacious. It dares to be bold. It dares to be original. Its satirical wit acts as a middle finger to lucrative, franchised, conglomerate Hollywood film industry and its suppression of artistic freedom. Likewise in the Gillian’s quest for artistic success, true innovation and ingenuity can be accomplished without major-backing but through hard work and determination…and murder too, apparently.
Part comedy, part horror, I Blame Society isn’t just intricately-layered metaphors nor a total bash on Hollywood, nor the moronic men of everyday life. There are moments of Horvat‘s film that play into its horror-thriller elements and are properly unnerving. The profundity of Gillian’s dedication and compulsion (which quickly leads to obsession) to make her film makes for some near-teeth-shatteringly intense scenes involving all genders, not just her brainless male counterparts. In this flick, nobody is safe. Everybody is a sacrificial lamb in the pursuit of entertainment. Without giving away any major spoilers, with each violent endeavour Gillian commits, suicide notes are written by her from the perspective of her unfortunate victims. The brutally savage murders in quick succession followed by a comedic exhibition of the sheer internal and external insanity of Gillian. You can’t not laugh but you’ll also be mulling it over in your head, “What the hell is going on!? This woman is an absolute maniac!”.
Through and through, I Blame Society elegantly radiates its low-budget, D.I.Y. independent film spirit. It doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t – rather, embraces it. It’s exactly what it’s meant to be. So nonchalantly intelligent that the lines are often blurry of whether you’re watching a body of fiction or a genuine documentary of a filmmaker desperately trying to get their project off the ground. Its satire feels fresh and forward-thinking whilst paying homage to those that paved the way for it. The extreme meta and ornate metaphors on feminism, Hollywood’s desecration of indie filmmakers and the sensitivity towards alienation make for a complete riot!
Conclusively, Gillian Wallace Horvat could just as well make a decent enough serial killer in actuality and probably get away with it if all else failed in her chosen field of work. Hopefully that won’t end up being the case as her wild, vivid imagination and bold, refreshing vision is wholly essential viewing. I Blame Society is an exemplar in modern and progressive cinematic satire.
Horror, Comedy | USA, 2020 | 15 | Digital Download | 19th April 2021 (UK) | Blue Finch Film Releasing | Dir.Gillian Horvat | Gillian Wallace Horvat, Keith Poulson, Chase Williamson