The Smoke Screen is always on the hunt for new and interesting film programmers and clubs around town, and has just crossed paths with such an outfit. Last week saw THE FINAL GIRLS take over the top floor screen at The Prince Charles Cinema to showcase a screening of photographer Cindy Sherman's only directorial effort - Office Killer.
The Final Girls is a London-based screening series with a mission "explore the intersection between horror film and feminism." Office Killer certainly fulfils that mandate, but the film offers so much more than just a study in things like the re-appropriation of genre tropes or subversion of the male gaze. This film is a truly out-there experience, a great example of one of those movies that literally disappeared between the cracks upon release, given its unclassifiable nature and refusal to offer up an easy way in for the viewer. Legendary photographer Cindy Sherman brings her unique eye to this quasi comedy-horror, creating a shamelessly weird world of bland 90s office cubicles and backstabbing bitchy work colleagues. The film stars Carol Kane (currently tearing up the screen in Netflix's The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as mousy and withdrawn office-worker Dorine Douglas, who, after accidentally electrocuting a colleague, loses her already slim grip on reality and starts killing off her fellow workers. As if that wasn't enough, she re-arranges the various mangled corpses into gross parodies of domestic bliss in the drab house she shares with her uncaring mother.
Beyond being defiantly weird when it coms to tone, the film is also striking in its production design - the office setting is totally unrealistic, hyper-grotesque in its blandness. In some cases the fakeness of the sets is deliberately foregrounded. The film plays around with the familiar tropes of the slasher genre, flipping things around by making Dorine the stalker/slasher yet also the 'final girl' at the same time, with her seemingly unstoppable butchery through the office ranks offering up a provocative subtext about female power and patriarchal structures. Interestingly, Office Killer also has an astounding array of supporting characters played by Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Michael Imperioli.
The Final Girls will continue exploring feminist themes in horror cinema and highlighting the representation and work of women in horror, both in front of and behind the camera. You can see their next screening - Single White Female - at The Prince Charles Cinema on 4 August. Details on the link.