Soraya Rhofir celebrated Aotearoa/New Zealand’s Cult B-films with fortnightly film screenings in May and June 2017, at the Te Whare Hēra Gallery, Prow end of Clyde Quay Wharf, Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington Harbour.
One of the films, the acclaimed Mr Wrong (1985), by director Gaylene Preston is a feminist revision of the ‘slasher’ and ‘thriller’ film genres. Preston examines the genres victimsation of women alongside what she calls ‘the cinderella syndrome’ - the fantasy that many girls grow up with about notions of there being a “Mr Right”. Mr Wrong, tells the story of a capable young woman from Aotearoa/New Zealand leaving home to begin an independent life which is threatened by a set of extraordinary events. In her new jaguar she picks up a couple from the side of the road, but then learns she is travelling with the cars previous female owner, who it transpires is a ghost, and her husband (who is not a ghost). When she vapourises he will not get out of the car. The young women’s survival depends on her ability to outwit him - the film concludes with the predator’s scream.
Mr Wrong (1985) along with anti-slasher / thriller filmTrial Run (1984), by Melanie Read, raised important questions about the misogynistic narrative structures found in much of film history. Both directors cite Hitchcocks Pyscho (1960) as an example of how male directors cast women as disempowered subjects through voyerusim and violence. Both Preston and Read set out to ensure audiences see women in powerful female roles. Mr Wrong (1985) won Preston a nomination for Best Director at the 1986 GOFTA Awards, and won the female lead actor Heather Bolton a Best Performance.
The screenplay for Mr Wrong (1985) was based on the story by well-known English writer Elizabeth Jane Howard.