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Fantasia 2020

[Fantasia] ‘The Columnist’ review: Feeding trolls a taste of their own medicine

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Cyberbullying is an unfortunate part of today’s world. Victims have come from all walks of life and the results can be tragic. The Columnist (De Kuthoer) is a comedy horror from the Netherlands. One day, the titular lead decides she has had enough and decides to take revenge. The film will be screening at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.

The Columnist does a great job of capturing the hateful side of the internet. Honestly, there is not much to it. A sexually repressed misogynistic comment here, a Trump quote there, and just like that you have recreated Twitter. What this movie does so well is show how people feed into the hate. In order for any hurtful comment to matter, someone has to pay attention to them. Not only does Femke Boot (the columnist) pay attention to them, she is incapable of ignoring them. This leads to a long time social media favorite: quitting Twitter.

It goes about as well as can be expected leading to Femke deciding to deal with the trolls in a different way. It is a strong premise that does not pan out as well as it should. Quite simply, Femke’s troll game needs some work. The Columnist sets up a ridiculous foundation. What happens has to be just like the troublesome comments: over the top and borderline offensive.

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The kills never quite reach that level, however. They are more violent than silly. It takes itself more seriously than it should. There is a fun montage in the middle of the film that stands out. As notifications continue to pop up on Femke’s phone, she is shown killing people in various ways. This is the kind of silliness the entire movie should have been built on.

The humor remains great the whole time. The Columnist contains a dry sense of humor that is perfect for its story. The trolls and Femke’s actions are exaggerated, but the humor is quiet and laid back. It is an interesting dichotomy that enhances the movie.The Columnist is a humorous take on the mean spirited side of the Internet. It is also about people’s inability to get away from the hateful comments. Calling it horror may be stretching the meaning of the term, but it is an enjoyable watch.

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