Betsey Brown stars as Rachel Ormont in "WWW.RACHELORMONT.COM." (SFJFF)
Betsey Brown stars as Rachel Ormont in "WWW.RACHELORMONT.COM." (SFJFF)

S.F. Jewish Film Festival: What happens when you make a movie from the internet’s weirdest memes? Heresy ensues.

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It’s easy to describe a weird movie as a fever dream. But I think I actually just had one. Or a stroke, maybe?

In the opening scene of “WWW.RACHELORMONT.COM,” which will get its world premiere at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on July 25, an unemployed, desperate mother sells her 4-month-old baby to an advertising agency for $1,000.

We then jump ahead to see Rachel, the baby, as a woman in her 30s — except she is still very much a baby. She has grown up as a wholly owned employee of the ad agency. She talks like a baby and is so starved of human contact and connection that she can scarcely understand what a human is and what humans do.

At first, this sophomore effort from director Peter Vack seems to be set in a horridly tacky future, though it will eventually become clear that this is not the future but a darkly perceptive vision of the present.

Rachel, played by Betsey Brown in a genuinely brave and often disgusting performance, is an “assessor.” Her sole task is to watch performances of Mommy 6.0, a pop star who is possibly a computer program or maybe a clone of her mom, and then respond to questions from a panel of cold, disinterested market researchers. As a slobbering stan of Mommy 6.0, Rachel responds to every question with an enthusiastic “10!”

At one such performance, the audience chants to Mommy 6.0, “We’re in your womb! We’re in your womb!” 

“Mommy loves you so much,” she says, before cheerfully intoning such lyrics as “10 years until extinction,” “I just got cast in three different motion pictures,” and “If you ever feel scared or poor, just wish upon a star!”

Just like the real internet, this twisted phantasmagoria includes total morons who are improbably confident in their nonsense.

Mommy 6.0 (and variations thereof) are played by Chloe Cherry, a former adult film actor in real life who turns in an unsettling performance. Not that any of the performances in this film are anything other than unsettling, but hers is particularly so.

The film’s themes include contemporary sexuality, parasocial relationships with micro-celebrities, poverty and an entire generation’s arrested development. (Arrested by whom? Ad agencies, duh.)

It also touches on Jewish identity at times. Rachel is at one point “adopted” by the Ormonts, a painfully fawning older couple who already have a comically apathetic daughter, Darci. Why is the family’s last name Ormont? They changed it from Goldberg, naturally.

“Or like gold and Mont like mountain! It’s prettier and more French-sounding,” Darci shouts before a member of the idiotic internet audience shouts back, “Wow, that is so antisemitic how Darci just erases her own Jewish heritage!” Darci screams, “F– you, I identify with my goy half!” Says the mom, with deadpan resignation, “My daughter spends most of her life online, and it turned her into a Catholic.”

This is part of a recurring motif in which an audience of average citizens of the internet sit in a black-box theater shouting or faux-thoughtfully commenting to one another about all the same insane things the citizens of the real internet shout and comment to one another.

When Rachel has a screaming breakdown about her parasocial non-relationship with Mommy 6.0, she is reassigned. No longer an assessor, she is now on the “advertising team” and is asked to use and evaluate a vibrator with a “Let’s Go Brandon” label. It is now her only job to use it during all of her waking hours. She begs for it to end.

A digitally manipulated version of Rachel pleasuring herself is broadcast to the dolts of the internet — as entertainment? As advertising? In this world, is there a difference?

Rachel’s only friend is Spigga, a nightmarish personification of the uncanny valley. (SFJFF)

The dolts of the internet are the real stars of the movie. The most successful portion of the film is its middle, during which viewers experience a meme-pilled trip through the most unhinged corners of the internet.

Just like the real internet, this twisted phantasmagoria includes total morons who are improbably confident in their nonsense, a woman dressed like a sexy Nazi dominatrix, and Jews accusing each other of being antisemites. It’s not always clear which things are real and which are virtual, dreamed or imagined — in much the same way that we sometimes mistake what we see on our phones as more real than the reality around us.

This portion of the movie is written in meme-speak — and not the kind of memes seen by normal people who don’t have their phone stapled to the inside of their brains. (Lucky for me, I am not normal and my phone is stapled to the inside of my brain, so I grokked parts of this movie.) Unless you spend too much time in shitposting Facebook groups and Reddits or on the dark side of Twitter/X and Amazon’s customer reviews, this movie will be borderline unintelligible.

“WWW.RACHELORMONT.COM” is darkly, outrageously funny. It is also, for want of a better word, utterly gross. Do not see this with anyone you’re related to of another generation. It will go poorly.

You will see two people have graphic sex on a bed that has the logos of both PornHub and the Biden-Harris campaign on it. You will see a grown woman happily take a jet of breastmilk to the face from the absurdly large prosthetic breast of another woman. You will hear the word “cum” more times than you want to. And you will laugh. Or you’ll walk out in disgust. Hard to say without knowing you personally.

All of the bizarrely social media-drenched surrealism of the film aside, the most disturbing segment is its brief turn toward unflinching realism. Rachel is, for a time, ejected from the ad agency onto the streets of 2022 New York City. Then we truly see what happens to people in our society who are detached from reality with nowhere to go and no one to love or care for them — and it isn’t funny.

“WWW.RACHELORMONT.COM” (80 minutes) screens at 9 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., San Francisco. Director Peter Vack and actor Betsey Brown are expected to attend.

David A.M. Wilensky
(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
J. The Jewish News of Northern California Staff Headshots.
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is director of news product at J. He previously served as assistant editor and digital editor. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davidamwilensky