I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
Ivo van Aart
“All these f*cking Dutch names making me underline stuff that’s actually spelled right just because I know nothing about the Dutch language”.- My spellcheck after proofing this review of the Danish horror movie/black comedy The Columnist.
“All these f*cking Dutch names making the spellcheck think I can’t spell so it looks like arterial splatter all over this text when it’s not really my fault there are 15 vowels to every consonant”. – Me, looking at the spellcheck redlining all these Danish names.
After 2 years of being held hostage in its native Denmark, the Danish horror movie/satire The Columnist finally makes its way to America thanks to an Argo-like operation of actually bringing the movie on a plane to the United States. There were checkpoints stationed all around Denmark looking for it, showing pictures to every Dutch citizen of this particular can of film. Thank goodness there was a crack team of extradition experts that put the film in a dress that wasn’t too showy to slip by security. Then when it was on the plane the film wore a mustache and sunglasses so as not to look conspicuous and in the dead of night it finally arrived so you can stream it on Shudder.
For all that work you’d think it would be a better movie.
Synopsis or Korte Inhoud in Dutch
If you haven’t figured it out by now, The Columnist is in its native Dutch and you will have to read subtitles if you want to keep up with---
It’s okay. They’re just words along the bottom of the screen. You’ll both have to watch the film and “read along”.
It’ll be tough but I think we can do this together. So glad you’re not spoiled.
The Columnist opens with our columnist Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) on a television show railing on about how people should be able to disagree with each other without attacking each other’s points of view. People should respect each other’s opinions and understand that all points of view are vali—
As a matter of fact she has. Her Twitter and Facebook pages are full of delightful people commenting on what a _____ she is and how she should ____ with her ____ in her _____, and then die.
Femke is a famous columnist for a Dutch website and has a book set for publication. Her editor wants her to use some of that notoriety to her advantage during the book launch. Her editor would also like her to think about writing another novel.
Femke would love to stop writing columns and do another book, if only so she wouldn’t have to deal with misogynistic trolls every single day. She vows to stay off social media. Good luck with that.
But Femke is positively blocked. She just keeps staring at a blank page with no words coming out of her. So what’s a writer to do? Go back on social media after a 20 minute hiatus.
Excellent job, Femke.
As usual, there are a lot of unsavory comments directed at her. Some of them attacking columns she’s written in the past, some of them attacking her because she has the audacity to be a woman with her own thoughts and feelings.
But Femke is not having it anymore. She’s a very successful columnist in her own right. She has a young daughter Anna (Claire Perro) she has to set a good example for.
Because Femke is such a responsible columnist and parent, she decides to find one of her more extreme trolls and talk to him using sense and reason. And when that doesn’t work Femke kills him and cuts off their middle finger.
Since it’s the internet there’s no shortage of D-bags or people writing movie reviews(!) so Femke is starting to make this an almost nightly habit of murder.
The Dutch police are calling these the “Middle Finger Murders”.
The Dutch police also suck because it’s not like Femke is trying to disguise herself or even wear gloves when she kills people. You hope “fingerprints” are a thing with the Dutch police.
You also hope that Femke can curb her murderous instincts when she’s triggered, if only because she’s such a promising young woman and a budding novelist. Femke’s even got a new boyfriend, the famous Dutch horror writer Steven Dood (“Death”).
Femke has everything going for her if only she could stop herself from killing f*ckwads on the internet.
But Femke’s got a taste for it now, and she may not stop until every bad person on the internet is dead and has their middle finger severed.
Good luck with that.
What Works With The Columnist
- The Columnist is more of a black comedy than an actual horror movie, eliciting dark chuckles than actual suspense. Having said that, movie’s initial kill prompts the most laughter as it’s the most unexpected.
- Evil’s Katja Herbers has the crazy white woman thing down. If all you know Herbers from is Evil (a very good show), then Columnist is a change of pace, to put it mildly (“To life!”). Even when things get rote, Herbers is always magnetic.
- A genuinely surprising ending, considering all that’s come before it.
What Doesn’t Work With The Columnist
- Once the killing starts, the movie does begin to get repetitive and not at all scary. Each kill lessens the onscreen impact of every kill before it. You’re wondering if the movie’s going to stop spinning its wheels. Eventually it does, but for most of the second act you’re stuck in a loop.
A memorable ending makes The Columnist worth a watch with tempered expectations. Don’t be a d*ck on the internet or else a Dutch woman will brain you and cut off your digits. Always good advice.