I Blame Society review – film-maker turns serial killer in uneven black comedy

Here’s a self-conscious black comedy from LA film-maker Gillian Wallace Horvat which is precariously balanced on the funny/annoying fulcrum. As Mickey Rooney might have said to Judy Garland: “Let’s make the quirky low-budget film about the ordeal of making quirky low-budget films right here!”

Horvat plays a droll version of herself, also called Gillian; her politically contentious script about Israel fails to get funding so she falls back on an idea she’s had on the backburner for a while: a film about how great she’d be as a serial killer. Gillian feels that the manipulative and predatory talents she has as a director are the perfect murderer skillset. Or is it that the nightmare of film-making fills her with murderous rage, along with the resentful rage she already feels towards a certain young woman she nicknames “Stalin”?

Heaven knows, her career is at an impasse. Gillian’s manager isn’t interested in her, and she is forced to take meetings with obnoxious film bros who call her work “Weird Frances Ha”. (Not entirely inaccurate, incidentally.) So using hidden cameras, and developing an unlikely talent for burglary, Gillian shoots a snuff-horror odyssey on spec in which she stars as a real-life killer.

And sometimes this film is genuinely quite funny – especially when Gillian fastidiously breaks into someone’s apartment and effectively dresses the set to be a movie crime scene. She also picks up a homeless person and asks him if he’s ever been on a film set before. “I thought you might be a former child star or something.” At first meandering, the film does have a kind of sociopath narrative arc as Gillian becomes more adept and confident at killing, although the no-budget aesthetic gets it into difficulties – there appears to be a continuity issue when two different characters wear the exact same T-shirt. Despite the title, Gillian doesn’t blame society. Unapologetic from first to last, she clearly doesn’t think “blame” is relevant.

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