Directed by: #JeniJones
The growth of the #metoo community on social media revealed an abhorrent amount of unspoken sexual harassment worldwide suffered largely by females, as well as men. Brought to the fore by celebrities, a mainstream discourse opened up about the inappropriate behavior by people in power as well as victims of sexual abuse in all walks of life. As with any large movement in popular culture or social tensions, filmmakers will look to represent these stories in a myriad of ways. Director Jeni Jones and writers Jamie Miller and Danene Montella have opted for a vigilante approach whereby gender role reversals form the foundation of their short comedy thriller Club Rat$.
Lelia Symington, Danene Montella, Alex Lynn Ward, and Jamie Miller play a gang on the lookout for male prey in nightclubs. They select their targets based on the likelihood of them being potential rapists or sexual abusers, e.g. spotting one putting a substance into a drink. Then they haul them to a remote location, take dirty pics of them which get sent to their employers, steal their money digitally and send it to women's shelters, and generally scare the bejesus out of them. If I were to name their gang, I would call them the Penis Fly Traps…*waits for applause.
Biting, tongue-in-cheek and stark, Club Rat$ is a giant two fingers to the male-dominated culture of sexual violence and aggression which is so prevalent in a majority of places in our culture and society. The strong female cast and crew is presented with no apologies and the vibrant array of cinematic trappings that are synonymous with stories and the aesthetics of maleness (heavy rap, gratuitous violence, tasty revenge) are done with a sublime sense of reckless abandon.
From a visual sense, the film has an edgy moderness to it. A strobe light effect to the editing which is frenetic at times keeps the pace quickened and the use of slow motion to highlight the graphic violence is a tried and tested method to keep audiences glued to the screen. The sound design comprises largely of heavy tracks that complement the nightclub setting well and reinforce the battling notions of predation and masculinity. Viewers will feel submerged into this unpleasant world where the only real difference to something they would be use to is that the main “antagonists” are women.
Artists who explore topical themes are always going to be subject to a more fluid reaction as the debate rages on. What is undeniable, however, is that Jones and her gang have created a relevant and thought-provoking piece that isn't afraid to place the themes front and centre and dare the audience to look away. Whilst there are a few moments of wooden dialogue and unconvincing character behavior (one of the characters seems to be completely nervous about the group's intentions one minute and brandishing a razor to a victim the next) the minor missteps are massively outweighed by the bold and daring storytelling. This is a worthy entry into the ongoing cultural reaction to the huge gender problem suffered by all nations and an entertaining one at that.