- Gareth Crook
The Columnist (2019) - 8/10
I gave German comedy a go last week and really enjoyed it, so now it’s time for the Dutch to make me laugh as I give The Columnist a watch. Forewarning this isn’t a slapstick or dumb American affair, it gets dark. Femke (Katja Herbers) is a writer. Her column attracts a lot of trolls. Trolls are an annoying part of modern life at best, a dangerous part at worst. She’s campaigning for everyone to be a bit nicer and for the keyboard warriors to fuck off, nicely. I’m with Femke on this. She’s her own issues, like a pushy editor on her case to deliver her next book, any book… just nothing “too heavy”, an inconsiderate noisy neighbour, a clueless friend and dismissive police who say “It’s just the internet, it’s not real”. It’s all very, well it’s very honest. Don’t get me wrong it goes to bonkers places, but at its core, it’s a story built on real issues. Frustrating issues and Femke has had enough. For all the realism in the set-up. The execution throws it all majestically to the wind as Femke goes on a rage filled journey of retribution, but boy is it fun! It’s cartoon horror delivered with deadpan delight. Herbers plays the invigorated revenge obsessed role wonderfully, but her character is much more nuanced. The relationship with her daughter following in her wake and her life complicating when she falls for Steven (Bram van der Kelen, I know!), all give her character depth. Steven is great. He writes horror fiction, but has no idea the real horrors that Femke is capable of. She’s full of dark inventive humour and thirst that would make Patrick Bateman blush. I’ve never been to Holland. It looks very clean, very ordered and aesthetically this follows that tone, but it knows just when to get gory and how to twist its story. Serial Killer films shouldn’t be this much fun, but this one is. Of course the question with a plot like this is, where will it end? This one doesn’t disappoint.