WE ARE THE WEIRDOS Review: Catcalls


Irish filmmaker Kate Dolan challenges gender stereotypes and the ‘revenge film’ formula with her new horror short Catcalls. Based on her own experience when a man exposed himself to her and a friend as they walked home alone at night, Dolan channels the anger she felt at being made to feel unsafe in her own town, and acts out the perfect artistic retribution. Catcalls takes all too familiar female experiences and feelings, and creates something original and progressive.

The film opens with a man (Martin O’Sullivan) drives around at night, stalking the streets and looking for cheap thrills. He comes across two young women walking home together in a remote area and stops to ask them directions. They willingly oblige, only to see to their horror that he is masturbating. They are appalled, but powerless, as he zooms away into the night, unscathed by and unpunished for his hideous actions. Arriving home to his wife (Sarah Kinlen), he is alarmed when one of the girls turns up at his house and asks his wife for help. His world begins to unravel as the two sides of his double life are brought to heads. Slowly but surely it dawns on him that he may have picked the wrong girls to heckle, and the predator has become the prey.

The female leads are played with understated assertiveness by Cesca Saunders and Edel Murphy, while O’Sullivan brilliantly displays an unexpected vulnerability when he is finally faced with the consequences of his exploitative behaviour, which provides a rare and affecting take on this subject matter.

Accompanied by beautiful camerawork, Catcalls gets the tension level just right. The knowledge that something is lurking in the shadows never falters, and it is impossible to avert your eyes, right up to the brilliant final shot. This is an intelligent and unconventional take on female victimisation and will especially appeal to those who have been made to feel unsafe in their own towns. Dolan has certainly earned a place as one to watch.

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