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Saltburn- The Internet’s Most Talked About Film This Month  

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

Oscar award-winning director Emerald Fennel has captured the internet in a frenzy with her most recent psychological thriller film. Saltburn was released in late November of 2023, and has made a lot of commotion in the film industry for the captivating ways in which it tells a story about human relationships, desire, and obsession. As of the start of 2024, the movie has been quick to gain attraction and make social media headlines because of its uniqueness. 

One thing that seems to make Saltburn stand out is its eccentric scenes. There are beautiful landscape shots of the mansion and the immense greenery that surrounds it. In addition, when Oliver— played by Barry Keoghan— arrives at the Saltburn country estate to live with Felix— played by Jacob Elordi— a newly found and elite-class friend made at Oxford. We see glimpse shots of the modern gothic architecture as well as scenes of the characters Oliver, Felix, Venetia, and Farleigh in a state of tranquility by a laying on a grass field. This all makes viewers romanticize the story being told of Oliver going to live with his new friend Felix during the summer.

However, just as the film is cinematographically beautiful, it also becomes psychologically twisted; for example, the famous scene where the main character Oliver consumes Felix’s intimate bathwater as a result of his secret obsession with him. The concept is disturbing, but intentionally it is meant to symbolize the depth of Oliver’s fascination and eccentrically reveals his true intentions. Up until this point, the audience is rooting for Oliver to impress Felix and fit into the socially elite life at Saltburn because we recognize him as a relatable character who doesn’t want to be an outcast. However, the infamous bathtub scene marks a turn in the file because it causes the audience to feel uncomfortable for the first time as it hints to Oliver’s abnormal obsession and hints that he might take it too far later in the film, which is true. This raises the question if Oliver has an innocent crush on Felix or actually fetishizes becoming like him. Fennel intentionally wrote and created these scenes in order to criticize humans and their obsession with the life of the wealthy, the loss of their morality, and the madness that overcomes them in the process. 

Similar shots that feel twisted in this film are captured in the lunch scene between the family members after Felix was found dead. The scene shows the butler close the red curtains and the lighting of the room turns bright red, symbolizing Oliver’s mad state of mind-hiding the crime he committed and the family’s cynicalism with trying to act like nothing is happening. 

Abnormal and gothic scenes such as these described are the reason Saltburn the newest trending topic on Twitter and Tik Tok. For the most part, no one expected the film to take a dark turn as it starts out almost like a comedic drama— just two opposite guys who coincidentally meet each other at Oxford. This film— now streaming on Prime Video— is a remarkable marketing experiment that seeks to shock its viewers and create controversy revolving around its themes. Yes, Oliver was not the innocent guy he presented himself to be, but the ending is even a surprise when he goes after Felix’s entire family and strategically kills them all after a series of lies and puzzles. Emerald Fennell’s story reveals the ways in which nothing is ever as it seems and the monsters humans are capable of becoming to achieve their greatest desires. 

Elisa Chavez

UC Riverside '27

Hello, my name is Elisa and I am a first year English major beyond thrilled to be a part of the writing committee. My favorite hobby in the world revolves around reading romance and fantasy novels, in fact I love spending time at bookstores. It is also worth mentioning that I adore cats, indie music, Harry Styles, and watching "Gilmore Girls" all year round.