Though you can easily forgive Blame because the heart of the story is so good, once you start really taking note of all that is going on, you realize it might not be as good as it seems.

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Though you can easily forgive Blame because the heart of the story is so good, once you start really taking note of all that is going on, you realize it might not be as good as it seems.

Director(s) Quinn Shephard
Screenplay By Quinn Shephard
Date Released 1/5/2018
Noted Actors
Abigail Quinn Shephard
Melissa Nadia Alexander
Sophie Sarah Mezzanotte
Mr. Woods Chris Messina
Jennifer Trieste Kelly Dunn
Ellie Tessa Albertson


Nadia Alexander and Quinn Shephard in Blame

Abigail, a girl who apparently had an episode within the last year, has returned to school and while she attempted to live a quiet and peaceful life, it’s high school. Naturally, that’s not possible. Especially thanks to Melissa and her flunky of a friend Sophie. Some girl who is a cheerleader, as is Melissa, who doesn’t realize Melissa is playing her.

However, that’s not the main storyline going on. The main one deals with this substitute drama teacher, Mr. Jeremy Woods, who takes notice of Abigail. For reasons never fully dived into, perhaps because her dad is abusing her, well step-dad, Melissa gets jealous. I’m talking jealous enough to do more than say petty things but actually do malevolent things and coerce Sophie to help.

But, in all this, realize Mr. Woods isn’t innocent. His attention of Abigail goes from meaning well to them kissing and being that Abigail, seemingly like Melissa in a way, doesn’t get any sort of healthy attention, it leads to a crush. One which, with them performing The Crucible together, it leads to her eventually getting so into working with Mr. Woods that she kisses him, he kisses her back, and it puts him in a very weird place.

One in which we wonder, between the history we keep getting hinted about when it comes to Abigail and Melissa going from petty to malicious, what may happen in the long run to Mr. Woods?


A Slow Burn

Quinn Shephard as Abigail practicing lines for The Crucible.

Let me be upfront, when you begin the movie you’re going to probably roll your eyes as you see Melissa and Abigail. Especially for both actresses Quinn Shephard and Nadia Alexander play upon your perceptions. Shephard, on her own and through the rumors Melissa and other characters put out there, lead you to believe she is this quiet and strange girl whose parents seemingly leave her to her own devices most of the time. Which includes using candles in such a way which raises red flags.

Then with Alexander as Melissa, you get this usual mean girl type, with colorful hair, dresses in such a way I don’t think any school would allow a girl to, and just comes off as a stereotype. Yet, they both strangely evolve. In a way, it is like you are almost tricked. You get lulled into this idea that this is but another silly movie about two girls getting the hots for a real basic looking teacher. But, that is far from the truth.

Something we see as Abigail begins to come alive as she and Mr. Woods share passionate scenes while doing The Crucible. I’m talking about you, if they were in a college environment and not high school, you’d want them to explore this chemistry they have. And that’s where the slow burn comes in. As things get serious between Abigail and Mr. Woods, and Melissa gets jealousy, even with two boys in lust with her, each actor begins to blossom in such a way that you find little reason to pause your screen. You want to know what is going to go down and as Melissa becomes more desperate so that no girl she knows gets more attention than her, you want to see how far she is willing to go.

Something which, at least for me, gave me that sort of rush I assume people who drink espressos get.


So, About The Situation That Was Never Really Gone Into…

Nadia Alexander as Melissa, taunting Abigail.
And neither will you

A few things: While the compelling drama is going on, Mr. Woods has this thing going with a woman named Jennifer. It isn’t clear what their relationship is, whether dating, friends with benefits, or in some grey area, but it does bring about some confusion into the plot. Just like how we solely see Abigail’s parents for one scene in the movie, and then they get written off with them working late every single day for the rest of the movie.

Alongside that, there is a bit of a question of why Ellie, Sophie’s friend, is Sophie’s friend considering how Sophie is with Melissa. On top of that, there is also the question of why Ellie never said anything about Abigail and Mr. Woods spending time together alone and kept the kiss to herself. Was she just living vicariously or wanted a way to stick it to Melissa for stealing her best friend?

And then there are the big issues: The first being was Melissa lying when she seemingly accused her dad of beating her and what the hell happened in psych class last year? The Melissa thing we’ll blow off for that came completely out of nowhere, but the Abigail in psych class thing, that bothered me. Especially because it is something skated around the entire movie and we never learn the truth. Did Abigail go to a mental hospital for 6 months and if she did, why? Was she really as crazy as Melissa tried to make her seem? I mean, on the surface, this movie can really be engaging but once that high comes down, you are left pondering about the slew of storylines meekly touched upon.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

Abigail in a car with Mr. Woods

I really loved the sort of love triangle, I guess you can say, between Mr. Woods, Melissa, and Abigail. The chemistry between the characters, while weak at first, came to such a boil I didn’t know what could happen. But, when you peer behind that bit of drama and scope out the rest of the movie, there are so many dead ends that seemingly should have been clipped that it sort of takes a Brillo pad to the movie and reveal its luster might all just be paint.

Hence the mixed label. Though you can easily forgive Blame because the heart of the story is so good, once you start really taking note of all that is going on, you realize it might not be as good as it seems.

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User Review
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  1. Thanks to Charlotte. I’m intrigued that even the reviewer who posted this didn’t have the emotional acuity to grasp this last scene—it was the stepfather abusing Melissa, which is why she acted out the way she did. (After that scene, I realized her behavior fit many of the signs of sexual abuse, including acting out in sexually inappropriate ways.) You are meant to realize that she is reliving real trauma, and that even the police officer and teacher realize it was the man in the room with them, NOT the teacher, who perpetrated the abuse.

  2. On top of guiding the ship, Shephard also stars as Abigail Grey. She is returning to her high school after being gone for a year due to a public breakdown. The softspoken Abigail is taunted by her classmates for not being just like them. She dresses different than all the girls and doesn’t fit into any of the requisite high school cliques.

    She is targeted by Melissa (Nadia Alexander, who won an acting prize at Tribeca), an excessively mean girl, who channels her rage and personal problems into her dislike of Abigail. It doesn’t help the the substitute drama teacher, Jeremy (Chris Messina), picks Abigail for the lead role in a scene from “The Crucible.” Melissa isn’t used to not being picked and it especially stings that the class pariah was selected over her.

    Jeremy’s immediate liking to Abigail grows into a relationship that crosses lines and confuses her. Jeremy has got to be one of the worst movie teachers in recent memory. He brings his personal baggage and thoughts of what could have been to the classroom and funnels it into an inappropriate mentorship with Abigail.

  3. Blame is an edgy drama filled with complex characters and a spin on The Crucible we’ve never seen before. It’s truly an original, unique film, something that can be quite difficult to come across in the movie industry today.

  4. I really loved this movie with very well rounded characters but there was a lot of confusion involved to where I had to type in “explanation of the ending in Blame.” I’m asking the questions like who was Melissa’s dad yelling at? What is the relationship between Mr. Woods and Abigail or even Mr. Woods and Jennifer? Did Abigail have a sexual relationship with another teacher or was she violent? Why doesn’t report Elle report them and why does she observe her classmates? Why isn’t Eric and Sophie relationship looked into more because she is manipulated but doesnt seem to take a lot of time to “get over it.” There’s so much good things that come to light in this movie like sexual abuse, mental health (personality disorder), the line that should never be by an adult male and a minor whatever the circumstances, societal pressures to feel needed espeacially by a male, and problems go deeper than anyone realises ( this isn’t me being cheesy by saying be nice to everyone) people evolve just like Melissa did when she finally put down the bitch persona that held her back. So this movie could’ve been a whole lot better and shouldn’t have given you so many dead ends. It did address problems that aren’t addressed in the right way or sometimes by the right people.

  5. I looked up the name Sybil and came up with Sybil (Schreiber book) – Wikipedia. This is so interesting as the results showed this, ‘Sybil is a 1973 book by Flora Rheta Schreiber about the treatment of Sybil Dorsett for dissociative identity disorder by her psychoanalyst,’ This explains a lot about Abigail’s nickname and I felt it really summed it up for me. Abigail was mocked by Eric in the library in one of the scenes, at the beginning, and said something like can he ‘request which personality’ to go out with; a nod to the dissociative identity disorder. ‘Sybil manifests sixteen personalities’, Wikipedia says. And Abigail walks with a limp in the beginning as well, which was caught out by Melissa when she said that Abigail was only limping because Laura does in the play they were reading in class. Clearly, Abigail has a problem with differentiating reality from literature and she becomes so consumed with her reading and enters a level of such devotion to her books, she honours it by living them. You can fill in the blanks about her psych class last year and hazard a guess that she displayed her personality volatility for all to see.
    This film is truly a work of psychoanalytical art. Even when Melissa revealed that she was actually beaten by her step-father, this explains that she also had some sort of personality disorder as Wiki says, ‘Wilbur writes that Sybil’s multiple personality disorder was a result of the severe physical and sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her mother, Hattie.’ This is why Melissa also takes all her makeup off in the last scene and drastically changes her clothing choice; not only is she too tired and emotionally drained to try, she also cannot be bothered to pretend to be that person anymore. In one of the beginning scenes you also see Melissa try to cut her coloured hair off, a sign that she wanted to remove this facade of arrogance and the abuse she faces.

    In the end, you can see that both Melissa and Abigail inhabit the character of Sybil and Abigail from The Crucible.

  6. The thing that bothered me most was the “Psych Class” incident regarding Abigail. Why everyone was calling her “sibyl” and why she did not want the teacher to know about it. I really did not think they would end the movie without revealing it.
    The ending was very weird. Starting off with Mr. Woods last scene with Abigail which left us confused with what their relationship was at that point??
    and ending off with the very last scene when Abigail smiled to Melissa as if it was a “i understand you” or “all the war ended” type of smile.
    Overall I LOVED the movie and truly enjoyed it but these little bits here and there just left me very confused and upset on how some aspects were not so clear.

  7. Melissa was DEFINITELY not lying about the abuse–she was being physically and sexually abused by her stepfather. Go back and watch the scene in the guidance office. You can see when the police officer asks if Jeremy ever hit her or threatened her, her eyes go kind of blank as if she’s remembering something else, and then starts talking about the abuse in great detail (obviously recounting what her step dad did to her). Then she says “I thought if I did this (meaning the abuse), he would stop hitting me”. The police officer puts it all together and asks when it all started happening, she looks at her stepdad and says “a couple of years ago”. This is the big twist in Melissa’s character–she was being abused at home and that is why she was so jealous and angry and messed up. The actors and director have talked about it extensively at a lot of Q&As on YouTube, so the scene was definitely intended to imply that she is telling the truth about the abuse (just that it was suffered at the hands of her stepdad, not Jeremy, obviously)

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