“Don’t read the comments.” is a great piece of advice for writers, but it’s also IMPOSSIBLE to follow. In THE COLUMNIST, we find out what happens when you let those comments dig in and use them to fuel your rage.
Controversial writer Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) is struggling with the comments about her on social media. From, OF COURSE, all the fragile, butt-hurt dudes who have to attack her in order to feel validated. Comments on her appearance, her intelligence, rape threats, death threats — you name it! It’s happening to her daily, and she can’t stop herself from watching it unfold in real time. It begins to affect her life and her work; she can’t write, she can’t sleep, and she can’t believe no one really cares about all of the hate speech on the internet.
Her boss believes that the comments drive clicks and readership, so she encourages Femke to shrug off this totally “normal” behavior and just get used to it. Her daughter, Anna (Claire Porro) thinks she’s overreacting and tells her to just forget about it. But after Femke’s “friendly” next door neighbor makes a sexist comment about her, she cyber stalks him and discovers he’s a racist homophobe, then makes a split second decision that results in his death.
Suddenly, Femke feels MUCH better. Her writer’s block is gone; she’s able to reconnect with her daughter, and even starts to see that there are good people in the world too. She goes to confront horror-novelist Steven Dood (Bram van der Kelen) about the way he treated her on a morning show, and is taken aback by his courteousness and charm instead. As the two fall in love, Femke tries to ignore the backlash about her work — but ultimately discovers that the only way to “get over it” is to kill everyone who’s leaving comments.
With each murder, Femke becomes emotionally stronger and more creatively inspired. But how long can she live a double life before she gets caught? Director Ivo van Aart has crafted THE COLUMNIST as a fun, satiric look at living out your revenge fantasies — and what happens when the line between what you judge as right or wrong blurs to the point of you not being able to tell the difference.
I really enjoyed watching this one! The cast is great, particularly Herbers in the lead role, and there is definitely a significant amount of splatter. Also, I mean, let’s be honest: as a woman writer who’s on the internet I was (mostly) cheering Femke on.
See THE COLUMNIST streaming On Demand as part of Fantasia International Film Festival’s online program, August 20 through September 2.