Film Review: The Columnist

STUDIO: Film Movement | DIRECTOR: Ivo van Aart | CAST: Katja Herbers, Genio de Groot, Rein Hofman, Bram van der Kelen, Achraf Koutet, Claire Porro
DVD & DIGITAL RELEASE: May 11, 2021; DVD $19.99
SPECS: NR | 85 min. | Thriller satire | Dutch w/ English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

From Dutch filmmaker Ivo van Aaret, The Columnist, which concerns an opinionated editorialist James Bondishly named Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) whose growing anger at the nasty comments she receives on social media platforms drives her to gorily killing her trollers, is more social satire than slasher cinema.

Katja Herbers is The Columnist

As Femke’s methods of taking out her prey grow more elaborate in the film—and her bloodthirstiness and writing grows ever more impassioned—Femke’s real personal life begins to get affected in ways she hasn’t foreseen. This is particularly true when it comes to Femke’s relationship with her feminism-embracing teenage daughter (Claire Porro) and horror novelist bedmate (Bram van der Kelen), who’s not nearly as horrific as his girlfriend.

The central themes of The Columnist— the limits of free speech, the horrors of online trolling—are clear, but the message gets a bit diluted by the film’s slasher elements and a couple of distracting subplots. By the end, the satirical irony of a strong, creative woman—a journalist—taking virtual violence to its physical extremes has lost its initial punch. Oh, and why doesn’t Femke simply stop reading her trollers’ comments?

That said, Katja Herbers, who’s in virtually every scene, makes The Columnist worth the watch. The Dutch actress, whose most notable English-language projects include the little-seen WGN series Manhattan, The Leftovers and Westworld, is game for everything her perceived enemies throw at her.

Buy or Rent The Columnist

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.