Have you ever heard of the Bechdel Test? I hadn’t. Now after watching Alison Roberto’s short film Girls Night In, which is screening at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, I am quite acquainted with it.
The Bechdel Test started in 1985 and sprung out of Alison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. It gained such recognition that in 2018 Bechdel test was put in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is a simple one with three criteria – 1) you must have at least two women involved, 2) they must talk to each other, and 3) what they talk about has to be something other than a man. It is something that the medium of film has taken on several times as it is about the representation of women in fiction. If you think about it long and hard you will begin to realize that only about half of the films ever made will pass the test. That means in film that at least 50% of the time when you have two women or more talking they will talk about men. Rather shocking, sexist, small-minded, narrow, etc., no?
Here director Alison Roberto (first film) and writer/executive producer Landon LaRue (has worked on Darren Aronofsky’s Mother, the more recent Matrix: Resurrections and is now working on Baz Luhrmann’s latest film) have created a film that can best be described as a satirical horror. Horror is a genre that often has humour stitched into it. So over the top that you can’t help but chuckle at its ridiculousness. But besides the tension created by the “someone’s in the house” setup of the film, it is also frightening in the truth it touches upon that this is how women are actually portrayed in films.
Girls Night In asks the question of where is the most ridiculous place two women could fight over a guy? It takes it even further to ask what if that man they were talking about was actually there to kill them? Becca (Jess Adams – appeared in episodes of television’s Community and Velvet Prozak) and Delaney (Skylar Benton) are together and one thing or word leads to another and they find themselves fighting over the same man. Only that man is in the house and looking to do them harm. But that does not seem to diminish their attraction to him or lessen the competition to gain his attention.
If poking fun at movie tropes or stereotypes that often crop up in films sounds like a good time to you then make sure to check out this short film. Besides being entertaining, after watching it you will find yourself noticing the portrayal of women in films.