Review by James Lindorf
What would happen if you took I Spit on Your Grave and added in artistry and a message? The answer to that question is Revenge. The film by first time director and writer, Coralie Fargeat, takes the base elements of that classic film of bloody retribution and adds in some allegories and subtext about the world and how it failed her main character. Fargeat’s added depth creates a movie that does more than just making you feel dirty while still satisfying any gore hound.
Matilda Lutz (Rings) plays Jen, a young woman on a romantic getaway with her married boyfriend when their alone time is disrupted by the early arrival of his friends for their annual hunting trip. What starts as a fun weekend of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and innocent flirting, violently escalates with one of the men taking what he felt was owed to him.
While I Spit on Your Grave was focused on the victim and her quest for revenge, Revenge turns the lens on the perpetrators of the film. Fargeat presents three types of men, the aggressor, the enabler and the one who looks the other way. Only one of them is a rapist, but the other two create the environment that allowed Jen to become a victim. The movie will leave you wondering which is worse, the one who commits the act or the one who will protect them after the fact, freeing them to claim more victims.
This shift in focus leaves Jen acting more like the terminator. She takes a tremendous amount of abuse and keeps coming just like that other mostly silent killing machine. After being left for dead, other than grunts, moans, and screams, Lutz is quiet for the remainder of the film as she seeks vengeance. If the role of Lara Croft didn’t belong to Alicia Vikander, I think Lutz would have been an excellent choice for that character.
The cinematography of the film is beautiful. The sun-bleached dessert contrasts with the lush hunting mansion and the buckets of blood. I have to hand it to the visual effects team. They made some of the best practical effects I have seen in the last ten years. As a child of the 80s, it was refreshing to see a return to the gore I know so well. Practical effects are much more effective than when a lower budget films use CGI. It would be interesting to know how much of the budget went to fake blood because it is not in short supply.
Watching this film left me hating men and wondering what I would do if I found myself in this situation. Would I be the hero, the man who looks the other way or something worse? What if I was Jen, would I have the courage to fight back against all the odds? You can see Jen’s quest for Revenge in select theaters and On Demand, Friday, May 11th.
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