The Columnist (15)
The Columnist (15)
Director: Ivo van Aart
Runtime: 86 minutes
Cast: Katja Herbers, Genio de Groot, Rein Hofman, Bram van der Kelen, Achraf Koutet,
Claire Porro, Harry van Rijthoven, Seno Sever
Synopsis: Newspaper columnist and author Femke Boot is suffering from writers’ block, and her mood isn’t improved by the torrent of abuse and death threats she receives daily on social media. When she discovers that her obnoxious, loud neighbour is one of the anonymous people posting vile comments, she snaps and takes matters into her own hands. As she finds herself able to write again, she sets out on a mission – track down the trolls and deliver some swift, polite and deadly vengeance.
This dark, satirical, Dutch comedy horror film directed by Ivo van Aart is gory and deliciously and nastily enjoyable.
The film is loosely based on a short story written by screenplay writer, Daan Windhorst, about the timely issue of internet trolls, cyber-bullying and abuse.
Van Aart’s and Windhorst’s stylish and coruscating film will contribute – it is hoped – to the campaigns raising awareness about online bullying and abuse.
Femke Boot [Katja Herbers – Westworld.TV (2018-2020), The Leftovers TV (2017), Manhattan TV (2014-2015), The Americans TV (2015)] is a depressed newspaper columnist and single parent who is under pressure from both her publisher to complete her book and a seemingly endless stream of online harassers. Discovering that her noisy, obnoxious neighbour is one of her harassers causes her to murder him and take one of his fingers as a trophy. This seems to lift her spirits enough to begin writing as well as take up a romance with a Gothic crime novelist named Steven Death (Bram van der Kelen).
However, as she continues to track down and murder her misogynistic online abusers, Femke’s frequent absences begin to take a toll on her relationships with Steven and her daughter Anna (Claire Porro). Steven believes she is cheating and Anna is angry over her mother missing an important school presentation.
Soon this reasonable woman becomes a ruthless serial killer, with the benefit that her writing improves; while her rebellious teenage daughter, Anna conducts a high school campaign testing the limits of free speech.
When Femke eventually tracks down the ringleader of the online bullying, the denouement of this blackly, comic, carnage-filled piece is surprising, visceral and macabre.
Good ensemble playing helps make this a truly sophisticated horror of the social media age.
The Columnist is streaming on digital platforms.
Images courtesy of Vertigo