I feel like Alice Schindelar’s short film I Want You Inside Me came straight from the last line of Sylvia Plath’s Lazy Lazarus:
“Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.”
In this 12-minute short film we follow the story of CJ (Abigail Wahl), a teenage-girl who is determined to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Cole. The film starts by setting up an interesting dynamic between the couple: the girl writes on her diary how much she wants him inside her, she is not afraid or ashamed to express her desires. When they are together she leads him to where she feels comfortable – a cave, nonetheless – and she is the one to undress first. She can barely wait.
Right after the sexual act, she blacks out and when she comes to she is alone. She doesn’t even think twice, she understands she has fallen into the cliché of the abandoned girl, but she doesn’t dwell on it. With the help of her friend, played by Kiley Juckel, she moves on – “you’ve been starving for 17 years… now it’s time to feast”. Now that’s a good friend – not a single moment of judgement is placed upon the character, not by the gaze of the characters, not by the cinematography, and not by the gaze given to the audience. Schindelar makes sure that the narrative is told through CJ’s perspective and she places total confidence in the protagonist.
CJ and her friend go to a party for her to “feast”. Throughout the night CJ keeps receiving calls from Cole, but she chooses to ignore him. The calls are static and she decides to start with a clean slate. She flirts with a bloke who goes to bed with her. He is caring and he lets her take the lead. As a gentleman, he starts off by pleasuring her and that’s when CJ realises she has a hunger inside of her, an animalistic appetite that cannot be tamed. She literally consumes the men with whom she has sex. During her orgasm, instead of stopping, she focuses on her pleasure and ignores everything that is happening around her, she aims her attention on herself.
Some have compared this short film with Mitchell Lichtenstein’s 2007 Teeth. Of course, both films bear a resemblance but what really caught my attention on this one was how consciously and delicate it was made. The acting on the part of Wahl was stunning; she was able to convey a wide range of emotions through minimal dialogue, almost only relying on her posture and facial expressions.
Losing virginity is a complicated topic, especially when it comes to girls, since we have seen so many American Pie-type of films out there normalising the narrative for boys. It is time we saw more films like this one who were made by and for girls.
Schindelar’s film is a breath of fresh air. The fact that CJ created the narrative she wanted to tell and she marched on forward gives a certain empowerment to the character. Therefore, not only does it subvert the tropes of masculine virginity where girls are portrayed as objects – means to an end, you might say – but it also shows a very empowered protagonist that is not afraid of owning up to her desires.
Moreover, in so many films we have seen that virginity can be a very public and social issue – being the last one of your group to lose your virginity is a source of shame. In this film, however, it becomes quite a private thing. CJ does not want to impress anyone; she is not telling the whole school she’s a stud; but rather she is keeping it to herself because she is the only one from whom she needs approval.
by Bruna Foletto Lucas
Bruna is passionate about films, especially horror films – a love she has grown to be proud of in spite of all of the eye rolls she has lived through. Her favourite films are Halloween, Scream and Cabaret. She has a MA in Film Studies by Kingston University, where she was able to go through a cathartic experience whilst writing her dissertation on women directors of horror films. Her writings can also be found on London Horror Society and UK Film Review. You can find her ranting on Twitter @Bruna_FinalGirland posting nonsense stories on Instagram @foletto.b