Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut, “Woman of the Hour,” showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival, skillfully navigates the delicate balance between humor and horror. The film delves into the bizarre true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala, who famously appeared on “The Dating Game” in 1978.
Kendrick, in her directorial debut, tackles a challenging tonal mix, making the audience both chuckle at the absurdity of ’70s pop culture and cringe at the unsettling reality of sexism escalating into rape and murder. This tonal schizophrenia is deftly managed, making the film simultaneously entertaining and profoundly disturbing.
The film’s premise is surreal, with Alcala’s appearance in “The Dating Game” being a focal point. Despite his disturbing criminal history, Alcala used his real name and even won the show but was ultimately rejected by the bachelorette, Cheryl Bradshaw, who found him creepy. In the year following his appearance, he committed more heinous crimes before his eventual capture and imprisonment.
Kendrick’s film blends fact and fiction, portraying Cheryl as a talented actress plagued by demeaning auditions filled with requests for nudity. Her journey to the “The Dating Game” is depicted as her agent’s last-ditch effort to boost her career.
The film alternates between mocking the shallow nature of the dating show and depicting the chilling reality of a serial killer’s actions. Daniel Zovatto delivers a chilling portrayal of Alcala, a predator who preys on vulnerable women.
“Woman of the Hour” effectively highlights the commodification of women in pop culture while shedding light on the insidious misogyny beneath the surface. Kendrick’s debut is a thought-provoking exploration of a disturbing true story, skillfully blending humor and anger to create a powerful cinematic experience.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The Wrap