My notes on De Kuthoer (The Columnist), which has played at the Fantasia International Virtual Festival.
One of the most despicable aspects of online trollery is that the targets of keyboard warriors are disproportionately the sort of people who wouldn’t approve of vigilante justice – but what if a wishy-washy liberal feminist got so rattled by the relentless abuse she decided the best way of dealing with it (and overcoming a related writers’ block on her contracted-for book) was to track down and murder her online enemies?
Directed by Ivo van Aart and scripted by Daan Windhorst, this is a very dry black comedy with a serious core. Newspaper columnist Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) is addicted to scrolling through her Twitter and Facebook mentions – which is a bad idea since she’s the sort of person who irks trolls by writing editorials about how Holland should put away its Black Peter tradition, though she also gets death threats after a piece about soft-boiled eggs. When she realises her apparently jolly neighbour, who loudly builds fences while she’s trying to work, is one of her persecutors, she contrives his death and chops off a finger as a trophy (she keeps it in a packet of frozen peas). Not only does murder help her get on with her work, she begins to have a better relationship with her agitator-in-the-making daughter Anna (Claire Porro) and starts dating laid-back nice guy horror writer Steven Dood (Bram van der Kelen), whose black eyeshadow and gloomy public persona is a calculated charade.
There is something of a plot progression, with each troll Femke confronts fitting into a different category – aggressive slob, want-to-fit-in whiner, crusty conservative – and their encounters playing out in different ways. Herbers plays the heroine’s progression from jittery doormat to self-possessed homicidal maniac in a nicely ambiguous fashion. Of course, it’s wrong to murder shitposters – but there’s undoubtedly a gleeful edge. It’s a shortish, sharp movie with just enough disturbing undercurrents to stick in the mind.
Here’s a link to the Fantasia listing.