Writer, director, actor Ingrid Jungermann’s Women Who Kill is perhaps one of the best Brooklyn-centric films to come out in years
Communication is key to a relationship. Whether it’s discussing the mundane or the troubling, a couple’s ability to hash out their feelings is vital if they are to survive the perils of blooming love. But it’s important to understand that the majority all of that communication, unfortunately, is exchanged nonverbally. And while that may be true in some cases, it seems that for the protagonist of Women Who Kill that is exactly the reason of her plight. For how can one truly understand their love if there is a lack of spoken communication?
The Tribeca-winning Women Who Kill tells the story of serial killer enthusiastic Morgan (Ingrid Jungermann), who with the help of her ex-girlfriend Jean (Ann Carr) run a popular female serial killer-focused podcast. While they may seem amicable and professional with one another, they still retain some of the unsavory after effects of a long-term relationship. Jean still grills Morgan for being afraid of communicating, or as Morgan refers to it, “sharing.” Morgan knows that Jean is bisexual, a fact that she seldom reveals publicly and yet does to one such serial killer interviewee. They seem intertwined and yet at the same time, sharply divided.
It’s a bizarrely intriguing relationship, one that is further complicated by the arrival of mysterious gothic Brooklynite (neck-choker and all) Simone (the always spell-binding Sheila Vand), who Morgan falls madly in love with within a series of weeks. At first, things seem picturesque, with the eyeliner-clad Simone respecting Morgan’s need for privacy just as much that Morgan does hers. But soon enough, Simone’s odd disposition and macabre outlook leads both Morgan and Jean to suspect that Simone may or may not be the infamous “Clipper” killer.
It makes for an intriguing narrative, one that coalesces multiple genres in a pleasantly complex manner, jumping from one to the other to yet another. From the Park Slope-centric indie one-liners to the dark underpinnings of an urban serial killer, Jungermann combines the qualities of Alex Ross Perry, David Fincher and Lisa Cholodenko to make for a wonderfully fascinating film about the lack of communication.
Without revealing too much, much of the plot would unravel had Morgan simply sat down with Simone and discussed her bizarre antics and mysterious past. Instead, rumination and an obsession with the macabre leads Morgan down a dark path of uncertainty, mistrust, and alienation. It’s a characterization that is as compelling as it is unfortunate, for while Morgan has the wit and drive to uncover this mystery, she is dogged by her own personal hangups of miscommunication, seldom showcasing them while hunting weekly for the serial killers on her podcast.
The unpredictability of the plot’s direction keeps one guessing and compelled to lean further into the screen, as if to uncover some hidden facet of Simone that Morgan or Jean might have overlooked. It’s a feature debut that should make Ingrid Jungermann shine with pride for her decisive new filmic direction is one that works to make for a captivating narrative. Coupled with her knack for capturing intimacy through well-framed shots and writing sharp dialogue that suits the charming (albeit bizarre) characters, Jungermann’s feature debut is a wonderfully pensive piece that executes its pacing nicely, while keeping the charm that made her previous works such standout hits.
In addition, Jungermann’s adept incorporation of mise-en-scène builds an underlying diegetic world that reveals much more than any piece of dialogue could, making the one-stop talent a revelation in today’s oversaturated Brooklyn-centric filmic world. And now that Jungermann is set to adapt her wildly successful F to 7th series for Showtime, it appears that this web-series star has elevated herself to new heights of cinephilic language with Women to Kill. Here’s to hoping that this filmmaker retains her gem-like status for years to come.
Women Who Kill premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival April 15, 2016. It is set to be released in theaters on July 26 and on VOD August 29.