In a short film slathered, dripping, and oozing all over with blood, the most horrifying scene of them all occurs in a pub, where one person is bare souled and desperate for validation, to be seen even, while the other is smirking and losing themselves in frivolous, nowhere conversations on their phone, leaving the other’s words to fall on deaf ears. “I don’t know if I am doing anything. Or accomplishing anything real. I don’t know, maybe none of it is real.” In this one sentence alone, not only does MJ reveal its beating heart and main theme, it also epitomises one of the biggest issues and contradictions rotting in the core of the post-millennial era – loneliness in a forever connecting world.
MJ follows a titular character, who, on the surface, would appear to be living the perfect life of effortless sex and the trendiest of design jobs in the heart of London. However, appearances can be deceiving, and below her life’s glowing exterior, MJ is subject to workplace bullying and passive aggression. While the world beyond the four walls of her office feels just as hostile – women’s pictures are taken without consent, men leer and laugh, and phone zombies roam the streets, unthinking and unfeeling. So, in a desperate attempt to be a little less invisible and to feel that bit more, MJ results to doing the one thing that guarantees attention – violence, and lots of it. A match on Tinder is as good as a death sentence in this film.
Whilst some reviewers have been critical of MJ’s singular theme, for most, it is no doubt refreshing to see a short with a firm sense of self and message, especially when it is delivered in such an uncompromising manner. Director, Jamie Delaney and writer, Coral Amiga should too take credit for subverting the usual slasher film staple – victimised women, by placing a woman front and center, and showing her off in all her homicidal glory. Let’s be honest, after MJ, most people will not be able to see a khaki bomber without a chill running down their spine. Which brings me to Coral Amiga, who plays the titular role with such haunting, stone-cold detachment, comparisons can be made with Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (Dir. James Cameron, 1984) and Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (Dir. John McNaughton, 1990). MJ is a must-watch – through the gaps in between fingers.
Watch it here: https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2020/02/10/mj/