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DVD Review: Women’s Studies

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It’s night. A badly injured young woman stumbles down a street, lets herself into a church, falls to her knees in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin, crosses herself, and collapses. Title card. Flashback to this same young woman (Mary) on a downtown street, passing out flyers for a gender equality speech to be given by Senator Hamlin (Judith O’Dea) at, of all places, the Masonic Lodge. Mary is a semester away from her Master’s degree in poli sci and women’s studies. Promisingly, Women’s Studies, a 2010 indie thriller, begins.

Shortly into the film, our heroine, Mary (Cindy Marie Martin), and her friends—boyfriend Zach, best friend Beth, and new friend Iris—who were traveling together to school, find themselves in a contrived plot device that results in the loss of her car and the attention of a group of chicks from the local women’s academy, who offer them a place to stay. Note that Mary recently discovered that she is pregnant. Being Catholic, her guilt prevents her from an abortion (but not premarital sex); being a feminist, she does not want to quit school, marry her intern boyfriend, and be a baby maker.

Okay, we’ve already got a problem. Mary wants to continue traveling by train. Nope, no trains here. Plane? Nope, none of them either. Mary, apparently too high-brow for a terminal, doesn’t ask about the bus.  Under these circumstances, wouldn’t it make sense to report the car stolen, and rent another (her insurance might even pay for that)?

The four boobs agree to stay at the academy; the three women can stay in the dormitory and the guy’s assigned the guest house. Beth thinks it was a bad idea to accept the invitation. You might, too, after learning cell phones don’t work there (an academy chick blames it on “the mountains”). Beth is the first one to jump ship—into shark-infested waters (not literally; sharks weren’t in the budget).

One of the academy girls is hugely pregnant (Sharon); they all smoke pot, hate men, and make comments about the “coven.” Little by little they reveal they are not “wrapped too tight.” Over in the guest house, one of them dons a wig and molests Zach (James A. Radack) in a scene borrowed from Single, White Female, but not faithfully.

Before long the killing starts. Economically…very economically. And neatly. The first victim to suffer a throat slashing does not spurt blood and avoids getting any on clothes or surrounding furniture. This film’s budget was not wasted on dry cleaning and blood sprays. Judging by the quality of the performances, it was not wasted on its stars, either.

Soon Sharon goes into labor while the rest of the coven takes Iris on a road trip—to hell! Which, coincidentally, is the turn the plot takes.

B-movies must include an expository scene where a villain reveals the whole purpose of the devilment that’s preceded it. Uncannily, this one turns on itself, going in one direction then suddenly veering off in another. Women’s Studies not only contains the obligatory exposition, but also Mary’s running narration as she comments on the various situations and her feelings. As far as narration goes, this one is not so bad.

The best line in the film has to be “She’s pregnant. You’re sterile. Do the math.” A close second is when one of the academy chicks likens their recruiting methods to Mary Kay. Of course, there’s also the classic, “Things can’t get any worse than this.”

If you like pseudo-lesbianism, poorly choreographed fight scenes, and talentless, graceless strippers performing in backwoods dives with two or three patrons, Women’s Studies may be the movie for you.  It seems so earnest, and yet so laughable.  As schlocky as it is, it held my attention.

Is Women’s Studies any good? Not really. But it’s not unbearable. It has some fun at the expense of feminism, and it is a model of B-movie clichés. While I wouldn’t recommend that anyone run out and see it, I can’t pan it completely. Maybe because it tries. And, let’s face it, we’ve all see much worse than this. The movie’s website, a faux college, is far more entertaining.  If you choose to watch Women’s Studies, make sure you stick around for the credits to find out how it really ends. Or does it?

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Women’s Studies? No, it was okay but not a film I couldn’t stand missing.


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