Since the release of Emerald Fennel’s posh thriller Saltburn, Gen Z viewers have become entranced by the lavish lifestyle and Noughties University experience of the wealthy upper-class characters depicted in the new movie.
The film stars Barry Keoghan as Oliver Quick, the middle-class interloper who poses himself as a scholarship student from a working-class background to win the friendship of Jacob Elordi’s wealthy aristocrat Felix Catton. Quick joins Catton at his family home, called Saltburn – a large British countryside mansion estate with acres of land – for the summer holidays.
The film was made available on Amazon Prime Video on 22 December and became the unlikely Christmas film of the year as thousands of people tuned in during the festive break.
At the end of the film, viewers watch Keoghan dancing around the Saltburn mansion in his birthday suit to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor”, moving through the grand country house, between its sprawling staircases and grand hallways.
Gen Z TikTok users, presumably from wealthy backgrounds, have been using this viral moment as an opportunity to show off their lavish homes, recreating Keoghan’s “Murder on the Dancefloor” scene as they move through their own families’ estate with British interiors and ancient statues.
“When Saltburn hit a little too close too home,” one user posted, panning the camera to grand views of their pool, garden and grand dining room.
However, some social media users have remarked that the people creating the video may have “missed the point” of Saltburn, which is to satirise the absurdity of the lives of the upper classes.
One person wrote: “It’s so funny to me that rich people are using Saltburn to show off, totally missing the point of the film.”
“Imagine flexing this after watching that film…did you actually watch the film?” added another. “It’s amazing how many people didn’t understand the point of Saltburn.”
Another person joked: “Can I come and stay with you for the summer?”
In The Independent’s four-star review of Saltburn, chief film critic Clarisse Loughrey writes: “As a class satire, [Saltburn] reaches no conclusions. But it’s filled to the brim with darkly funny, bile-slicked revulsion. For its director, who hails from the same upper classes she targets, it’s an act of self-excavation.”
“Fennell colourfully constructs these elite spaces, in which ‘just f*** off and do History of Art’ is a real insult, and where the truly, truly privileged own the smallest televisions. She knows how to pick her actors, too, though Rosamund Pike is the absolute highlight – luminously awful, every sentence dripped with judgement.”
Since the film was released on Amazon Prime, thousands of people made the mistake of watching the film with their parents, unaware of the squirm-inducing “scenes of a sexual nature” they were about to witness. The Independent’s TV editor Ellie Harrison, who suggested she and her family watch Saltburn over the festive period, writes: “One of the most talked-about sequences sees Barry Keoghan’s libidinous interloper Oliver Quick slurping dregs of bathwater from a drain, minutes after Jacob Elordi’s handsome aristo Felix Catton has pleasured himself in that very same tub.”
“This was the exact moment my mum reached for her go-to awkward film prop, the newspaper, and began to fervently (and unconvincingly) read an article about interest rates. My dad seemed to be stunned into silence. All I could do was laugh. We’d been here before.”
Saltburn is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.