This film clearly wants to say a lot about everyday misogyny, gaslighting, and maddeningly infuriating treatment of women (telling us to calm down, blaming us for our attacks) – things I wish were being screamed about every fucking damn day. But this film does nothing but say it; it’s a handful of heavy-handed musings that just repeatedly hit you over the head with all the subtlety of the hammer the main character picks as a weapon. It doesn’t feel like a real film on top of it.
Which unfortunately means that this film is just preaching to the choir (those of us who are living in fear of it). It’s fodder for unimaginative wankers who just go ‘hurr durr woke feminist’ and doesn’t bring anything new to the discussion. It’s a shitpost – but a decent one – that is posted in a feminist facebook group and never leaves.
Our plot is thus: successful self-help writer May (Grant) is being attacked every night by a masked man. The police are unhelpful, her husband Ted (Dhruv Singh – at least give the character an Indian name?) is nonchalant (which admittedly makes for some early deadpan humour before that’s also hammered into the ground), but the man keeps coming back, even though she keeps killing/maiming him. What do?
I wanted so badly to like this film because we need more of this. But this seems like a sketch for a more fleshed-out film, as if someone took notes on the shitty things we experience as women and just documented them with some flashes of humour and slasher scenes (the latter of which is executed with no tension or real implied threat). We know something is weird because the body keeps disappearing, so our events should move quickly, but the world-building is slow and repetitive, with the story only really kicking in with 15 minutes left to go.
Another problem is the main character. May keeps making poor decisions; she knows the body keeps vanishing and that people aren’t believing her so hold onto the body, record what’s happening – do SOMETHING to try to get clues or evidence.
For a film about the struggles women face, May’s privileges are impossible to ignore, and they are never once addressed. She insists she isn’t lucky when in many ways she is: She lives in her own home, from which she gets to work every day as a successful self-help (“business”) writer.
What’s odd is that there are elements of race on display: Her subordinate and her sister-in-law are both women of colour but both have Western names. May trots out a variation of famous Karen line of wanting to speak to someone’s manager. Her agent even shows up to tell her that she’s “lucky” that publishers still want to work with her given that the “women’s movement” is heading towards “Latinx” content (i.e., the full and complete intersectionality that feminist perspectives should always have had). I was waiting for something to deliver on these pieces but, sadly, nothing came of it. In fact, they left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
The film does go down a interesting but potentially problematic detour in which May thinks she deserves this because she once cheated on Ted, and there’s a throwaway bit in which May’s sister-in-law Sarah (Kausar Mohammed) has a son who apparently plays a little too rough with toy guns, and she encourages it.
But as the film gets a bit speechy (especially the “I WILL NOW TELL YOU WHAT THE FILM IS ABOUT” summary), we lose yet another opportunity to have a nuanced, even darkly funny, depiction of toxic misogyny and how it marginalises women – which gets worse the further you go down the intersectional tree: LGBT women, women of colour, Muslim women, immigrant women, trans women, or any mix of these and more. This could have at least been acknowledged instead of the aforementioned name-whitewashing. But this movie, like society, doesn’t really want to talk about violence against women unless it’s happening to pretty blonde white women and, even then, it has nothing to say beyond its echo chamber.