Writer/director/actress/mischievous malcontent Gillian Wallace Horvat’s I Blame Society is a wry, anarchic mockumentary that will almost immediately turn some people all the way the hell off. Pity those poor, incorrect fools.
This nonchalantly, lackadaisically-unhinged satire draws intersecting and parallel lines between what it takes to make it in the film industry and what it takes to be just a really successful serial killer. Don’t care about inside Hollywood bullshit? No worries! Set that meta-conceit aside, and you’ve still got a subtly hilarious, effortlessly droll comic gem jam-packed with quotable lines and goofy killin’. If Tiny Furniture got Lena Dunham an HBO show, I Blame Society should get Horvat her own damn network.
Horvat presumably plays a (hopefully) more demented, infinitely more murderous version of herself, also named Gillian. The very first scene is an interview with her friend, Chase (Chase Williamson), in which she tells him that she’d like to film herself showing precisely how she would kill his girlfriend, who she codenames “Stalin.” This is because Gillian was recently told she’d make a great murderer, really values that compliment, and wants to explore where that goes because her screenwriting and filmmaking career is otherwise sputtering.
Her manager encouraged her to write a script for a comedy about Israel, only to dump her when he read it because, as it turns out, Israel is pretty “political.” Two producer dudebros (Lucas Kavner, Morgan Krantz) invite her to develop a pitch deck for projects that feature “strong female characters” and either “intersexuality” or “intersectionality,” they’re not quite sure. Oh, and she can’t use her own ideas; she’s just supposed to put her name on theirs. If none of that sounds like grounds to start murdering, please consider that her boyfriend, Keith (Keith Poulson), goes on a rant about how he’s “an ally” who totally supports female directors but can’t understand why all the female directors he’s worked with suck so bad.
Like a truly awful child falling down a well, I Blame Society gets darker but undeniably more satisfying as it descends. Unlike Promising Young Woman, a somewhat similarly minded film that was betrayed by its unconscionable third act, Horvat’s satire only gets more pointed and cleverly unhinged. Again, you don’t have to appreciate things like the skewering of meaningless diversity gestures—and the best collection of abominable men now that Parler’s offline—to find this tidy romp delightful. But doing so pushes it from regular hilarious to the kind of special that warrants making up a nickname for die-hard Horvat fans. Horvaddicts. Nailed it! Listen, if we let Tom Green be famous for a decade-plus, we can demand more Gillian Wallace Horvat.
Despite a very, very understandable chip on its shoulder and a gloriously insightful purpose, I Blame Society never whines nor lectures. Instead, it just operates as a fearless, jet-black comedy that is too busy slitting throats to pull punches. More Horvat-related material, please!
Grade = A
Other Critical Voices to Consider
Andrea Chase at Killer Movie Reviews says “I Blame Society is at once as adorable as its strong female lead, and as ruthless. This is savage rebellion served up with a knowing wink and no apologies. Brace yourself and prepare to storm a rampart.”
Stephanie Archer at Film Inquiry says “The originality of story and filmmaking is a sight to see, and its narrative is an exquisite example of how quickly the thin line between reality and art can blur. It is also a showcase of the preconceived notions of women in the film industry that we still need to shed. If you have the opportunity to see I Blame Society, please do. You will not regret it.”
Heather Wixson at the Daily Dead says “I must admit, during the first 10 to 15 minutes of Gillian Wallace Horvat’s meta horror comedy, I Blame Society, I really wasn’t sure that I was enjoying it. But, by the time the film hit the 30 minute mark, though, I was full-on completely in love with all that I Blame Society had to say, and realized exactly just what Horvat was doing with her darkly comedic commentary on the world of independent filmmaking.”