Here are the facts: being a woman can be dangerous. We’re more likely to be killed by our partners – certainly a startling amount face domestic or sexual violence. If you’re a woman of colour or a trans woman, those statistics look even more dire.
But girls are made of tough stuff. Which is why I love the final girl trope so much: pure resilience and power. Seeing the power to fight back on screen.
Which is why I think so many female directors are doing so many interesting things in the horror genre of late. (But let’s face it – we always have.) In the short film by Irish director and writer Kate Dolan, we see the final girl trope in a very twisted (and brilliant) light.
Paul is a creep. He cruises around harassing women. One night, he reveals himself to a girl on the street with her friend. But he quickly realises he messed with the wrong ladies.
When he gets home, his exhausted wife tells him that she’s about to head out the door for an extra shift. Whether or not she’s oblivious to her husband’s, er, extra-curricular activities is unclear.
Before Paul’s wife can even leave the house, a girl arrives at their door screaming for help. Paul immediately recognises the frantic girl as the one he sexually harassed earlier in the night. He panics and leaves the room, but when he returns to where the women were, he’s unable to find them.
Paul soon realises that he’s in danger, and there’s a monster eating his wife. He attempts to make it to his car, but is attacked by a woman-cat-like creature in the night.
Catcalls has a premise that reminds me of films like The Craft and Ginger Snaps. They’re films full of great female characters with loads of personality. Our monster ladies in Catcalls pack a memorable punch without have hardly any lines at all. Each withering look conveys every feeling I have ever had while harassed by men.
But this short film also reminds me of the rape-revenge genre: we’re rooting for the people dishing out the violent justice.
For being less than 10 minutes, Catcalls really resonated with me. I’m dying to tell my friends about it – to find strength in it. We might not be able to turn into cat women ourselves, but it’s certainly enjoyable to pretend that we can.
Really, I’m ready for this to be a full-length feature. Give me an hour and a half of these ladies extracting revenge. We need it.