Let’s see if it lives up to the hype.
Revenge made a bit of a splash last year as it is a new take on the rape/revenge genre of I Spit on Your Grave and other sexploitation films. Recently, the film has entered a new phase of advertising as Shudder has gotten the streaming rights (this review is my first on the streaming service).
We follow Jen (Matilda Lutz) who is with her scumbag (married) boyfriend Richard (Kevin Janssens) at what appears to be a desert mansion. Richard is clearly wealthy, and the massive house features some interesting style choices (more on the look of the film later). Richard’s jerk friends arrive early and disrupt the weekend. After declining a sexual advance, Jen is raped by one of the friends—Stan. After, Richard tries to bribe Jen into forgetting the incident, then tries to kill her (but she lives), an now the three scumbags have to hunt her down.
The film follows the general pattern of a rape/revenge film with (what I would call) slight critiques rather than overt ones. Unfortunately, I think the feminist edge of the film could potentially be lost on a lot of viewers if they weren’t aware of what the film was trying to do. I am not sure if this is more a critique on the film or how moviegoers tend to reject anything female oriented. Even this film has been lambasted by armchair critics for being too unrealistic. Movies are unrealistic folks—sorry.
The men are clearly the villains. The film does a great job in building tension with how these scenes are framed. The immediate danger Jen is in becomes clear shortly after the two friends arrive. Further, how the rape is handled is interesting and well done. Dimitri, the remaining friend catches Stan assaulting her and walks away. The dismissal of feminine trauma is well done her. Further, Richard’s solution is to pay her off. Women are objects here, and unfortunately, they are in a lot of horror films.
A lot of folks have complained about how Jen would have likely not survived his initial injury. (Because all people become experts in whatever field to critique women in films—don’t believe me, check out user reviews on IMDB). However, they are probably right, but this film is a fantasy in that women are able to get back at wealthy abusers who exploit them. The tragic reality is that dipshits like Richard exist and they often get away with it.
The film is worth a watch simply from the argument it makes and the discussions it can creature. So, how is it as a film? It looks great. The shots are sharp, colors vivid, and just about every scene pops thanks to high quality digital filming. The film also sounds good. Whoever did the sound design deserves major credit. A lot of horror films have poor sound with too much squishing or too loud of noses. In this, footsteps make the appropriate crunch, as does a falling can and so forth.
The film is nearly two hours and cutting it to around 90 minutes would have been a better choice. Several scenes would benefit from a little tightening. The length is noticeable due to how predictable the plot is. Even with the subtle changes and potential for feminist exploration, the movie will seem familiar to most audiences. I think it is well-made, but ultimately this one failed to live up to the hype surrounding it.