The premise does sound pretty good on paper. But in execution, this film is really quite clunky.
On the surface, Ruby Larocca and Rich Mallery’s new horror film Sociopathia has a lot of potential. It’s being promoted as a female version of the classic 1980 flick Maniac, it co-stars Return to Nuke ‘Em High standout Asta Paredes, and is noteworthy for being the rare female-driven horror movie—the cast is nearly all female, one of the two directors is female, a number of people behind the camera are female. Sounds like a nice antidote to the primarily male-driven horror genre (/entire film industry), as from my experience, there are just as many female horror film fans as there are male ones.
Alas, Sociopathia isn’t the ax in the skull that the horror genre could use. It opens, with no logos or anything, on our lead Mara (Tammy Jean) having sex with another woman, and it doesn’t take long to discover that if anything this movie seems to pander to a male audience more than many male-led horror films do. Does Mara just live in a world of naked, pretty girls? And if she’s as antisocial as the film wants to position her, how does she manage to have sex with so many of them?
She needs to have sex with a large number of them to keep her body count up, of course—it’s no surprise that she likes to kill the women she sleeps with. (Or not to the viewer, at least; one can only assume that it’s a surprise to those she has sex with.) Not mid-coitally, nor even necessarily post-coitally, but more so when her newest lover shows any sign of leaving, isn’t the lover she needs them to be, or generally has any of the regular grievances that arise in modern relationships. And then, once they’re dead, she keeps the bodies around as if they’re dolls to be played with.
Okay, you’re probably still not talked out of this movie—the premise does sound pretty good on paper. But in execution, this film is really quite clunky. Ms. Jean, who looks not unlike Juno Temple and has an interesting screen presence, falters when she has to recite dialogue, which is of course pretty often since she’s the lead of the film. Ms. Parades fares better, but her work here falls noticeably short of what she did in Nuke ‘Em High, so between her and Jean, we’re likely looking at a case of the directors not being great at directing their actors. Elsewhere, the editing is as chunky and inelegant as one would expect from a student film. Some of the gore is satisfying, but never enough to redeem the overall experience of the movie.
The DVD release of the film features both a color version of the film and a “Black and White Director’s Version”—insert “Who are these black and white directors?” joke here—which really adds nothing to the film. Oddly, the film’s use of color is one of the things it does halfway decently, which renders the disc’s biggest special feature redundant. Apart from that there is six minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, which in general are no better or worse than what made the final cut of the movie, a small and inessential stills gallery (17 pictures in total), and the film’s trailer. | Pete Timmermann