The Columnist Review – Dominating Performances Carry this Revenge Horror Flick

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The Columnist, featured at the AFI European Union Film Festival, presents a fantasy horror film, which sets one social media obsessed columnist on a revenge mission targeting her haters as each become the inspiration for her novel.

The film opens with two authors, Femke Boot, a suburban syndicated columnist, played by Katja Herbers, and Steven Dood, a goth fan favorite novelist, played by Bram Van der Kelen, the two are verbally sparring over the malevolence and benevolence of social media each trying to elevate their publicity.

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We also meet her publisher, a very jaded and scene stealing Merel Westrik, played by real-life journalist Merel Westrik, who explains to Femke she is behind schedule on her novel, and over the protests of suffering from the dreaded writer's block, she is told the next year's launch date might as well be today as it will take a year of publicity to build adequate sales and so a simple mention on the show would have helped.

Stuck, with a deadline due, Femke is looking for inspiration and inevitably returns to the Twitter comments, led by misogynists, or at least those who appear to despise women and direct their hate rhetoric to her, suburban mom columnist with public opinions.

Obsessed with her followers, she is deeply provoked and concerned by the words, defamations, lies and death threats so much so that she attempts to report the actions to the police who offer a simple schoolyard bully story and dismiss her concerns.

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She slowly she becomes addicted to the vicious messages, as the haters target her for her words, her success, and subjects, she continuously scrolls through the nasty comments. Not only is this constant trolling affecting her motivation to write new articles, but she also needs to finish writing the novel she promised to deliver her publisher.

One day, mad as hell and unwilling to take it anymore, she snaps. Her act of revenge both eases and fuels her. Suddenly her inspiration has returned, and she writes with a vengeance.

Soon the cycle returns, her addiction to social media presents another evil-hater, an unknown hiding behind an avatar, with deep-seeded sinister thoughts which they actively use to engage others in their openly misogynistic, and extremely offensive as they seek the approval of others fulfilling a personal need for "likes" and "retweets" boosting their self-esteem and narcissist self-absorption.

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Slowly our suburban mom writer loses herself as she becomes the self-absorbed, visceral, and careless, given over to belief of both invincibility and justification.

The Columnist presents a dark-dichotomy, the dedicated career minded journalist, with home, lover, and child, and the hidden socio-psychopath, who hunt, with precision, her social media antagonists, killing them in the ultimate act of revenge for the viciousness of their words.

Visually, the duality is extreme. The murders are bloody and messy, and the casualness unnerving. For any who have been targeted on social media, the fantastical elements of the film are even extreme in thought.

The entire cast, including the supporting ensemble of internet trolls, provided strong and dominating performances giving this fantasy horror flick a solid and alarming element of truism.

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An AFI European Union Film Festival Horror favorite, The Columnist is also an Official Selection in the 2020 Fantasia, FrightFest, Chicago and Telluride Horror Show film festivals. The Columnist is available to viewers located anywhere in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.

Year - 2019

Runtime - 86 minutes

Language – Dutch With English subtitles.

Country - Netherlands

Director - Ivo van Aart

Screenwriter - Daan Windhorst.

Producer - Sabine Brian, Ronald Versteeg, Kaja Wolffers.

Cast - Katja Herbers, Bram Van der Kelen, Claire Porro, Harry Van Rijthoven.

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