With a wealth of documentary shorts under her belt as a producer, the natural choice for director Gillian Wallace Horvat’s feature debut was a mockumentary. The result, I Blame Society, is an amusing, feminist satire, in which Horvat presents a fictionalised yet boundary-blurring version of herself, frustrated at the male gatekeepers of the filmmaking world and determined to make her own bloody, indelible mark.

An uncomfortably funny introduction wastes no time in establishing the film’s raison d’être: Gillian wants to commit the murder of her best friend Chase’s girlfriend to film. Her manipulative skills — she attempts to reason her friend into accepting that “Stalin” is abusive and deserves it — are yet to be honed, and this initial step to realising her dream project is thwarted by Chase’s horror. Cut to three years later, Gillian has achieved nothing of worth; her old idea resurfaces to become an unhealthy obsession. In love with the idea of being a good murderer — or perhaps good at anything — she justifies and fine-tunes herself, documenting the whole process from the beginning.

I’m a murderer, not some frenzied spree killer, you dumb cunt.

It’s a genuinely funny and, at times, excruciating journey. The aforementioned poor manipulation develops as Gillian realises rewording her question, whether or not she could indeed be that good murderer, is necessary if she is going to achieve her desired response of yes from loved ones. She’s pragmatic and methodical, excitedly starting out with a minor crime to progress to the desired goal, and doesn’t miss the opportunity for a nice frame when, possibly unexpectedly, someone is choking to death on the ground. Wisecracking along the way, fun is poked at hipster straight-edgers, while it’s declared that “millennials have ruined everything”. 

And yet, it’s not entirely clear what point Horvat is trying to make. Gillian is flanked by men who disrespect her and female filmmakers in general, but the character’s amateurish approach has done little to show that she should be respected. As her boyfriend mockingly points out, her filmmaking efforts thus far devolve into her having sex, which doesn’t change as she develops, and the line is blurred between laughing with and at her. Interestingly, the only man in her life who appears to truly value her is the one Gillian carelessly disposes of. While I Blame Society never takes its eye off the meta prize, the scene in question feels more for comedy’s sake than illustrating her character’s transgression to the dark side.

The laughs and Horvat’s deadpan, sarcastic delivery more than make up for this slight clumsiness, ingratiating us to Gillian’s madness. Come the final act, she has completed her journey to the mission she is meant for.

Blue Finch Film Releasing present I Blame Society on digital download 19 April

Gillian Wallace Horvat
Keith Poulson
Chase Williamson

Gillian Wallace Horvat

Gillian Wallace Horvat
Chase Williamson

19 Apr 2021

Posted by Naila Scargill

Naila is the founder and editor of Exquisite Terror. Holding a broad editorial background, she has worked with an eclectic variety of content, 
ranging from film and the counterculture, to political news and finance. She is the Culture Editor at Trebuchet, and generally gets around.