Revenge is a 2017 French-made action-revenge-thriller. It centres around the retaliation of a seemingly murdered rape victim, pushed off a cliff and left for dead in the desert.
Directed by Coralie Fargeat, the visuals of this movie are a bit like I Spit On You’re Grave if it was directed by Hype Williams, in fact the music video aesthetic adds to the overall sense of un-believability; the unrealistic-looking wounds (can you get your fingers that far into your foot?), the unbelievable plot (surviving a fall from a great height, landing on a tree branch bowel-first but missing any vital organs and spine, not getting sepsis, not to mention burning your way free from an impaling), and the flawed centralised set piece (shouldn’t that abdominal scar be a mirror image of the phoenix design from the beer can? In fact would beverage can printing actually transfer as a branding if heated?). But all that aside, Revenge is an enjoyable film, and if you suspend your disbelief at all the goings-on, you’ll be entertained pretty much from start to finish.
I’ve read a couple of reviews in which some critics call this film “feminist” but that just seems like a lazy buzz-word that mainstream journalists currently use to describe anything made by or starring a woman. Personally, I fail to see the feminist qualities of this film, in fact the old sexist filmic-trope of questioning if a woman has “asked” to be raped is still present, albeit in a watered-down way. In Revenge the idea of being a beautiful, sexy, scantily-dressed mistress is also added to the mix, and in some ways the film suggests that if you’re in a room with three men, one millionaire socialite and two hick-like hunters, that maybe as a woman you shouldn’t party or dance provocatively in front of them. Then, once the “revenge” portion gets underway, given the general cartoonish stylings of the film, the lead still can’t handle the kick-back of a giant phallic gun, and she doesn’t mutilate the genitals of the rapist or let the wife and kids of the cheater know what he’s up to. Basically, there’s no “like-for-like” retribution here which feels like a bit of a let-down given the title.
All this sounds like I don’t like the film but on the contrary, Revenge is very entertaining, and the fact that it’s more The Bad Batch than Accused, it makes you take the movie less seriously and therefore enjoy it more. Like I said, there’s an obvious sense of cartoonishness here (think Peter Jackson’s Braindead meets the Wachowski’s Speed Racer) and the implausible, far-fetched feel is actually part of the film’s charm; the copious amounts of blood, the bullet wounds, the gauges, the exploding heads, and did I mention the humongous trails and pools of blood?
Matilda Lutz is very likeable as the victim and the lead and the fact that she’s finally in a decent “horror”, this at least goes some way to expunge the terrible Rings from her filmography. In terms of the other actors involved, the cast isn’t exactly vast, but regardless, the three or four other actors involved are not household names. We Limeys or Yanks aren’t exactly acquainted with French, Belgian, or Italian actors (although after seeing this film you’ll remember the protagonist played by Lutz and the antagonist’s backside which features more in the film than his face) and that being the case, when Kevin Janssens is chasing Matilda Lutz it looks like Aaron Eckhart is trying to kill Shakira to us English-speaking folk. Familiarity of actors is hardly an issue however, this film works with or without mainstream talent and with an untested director. As long as you take Revenge as what it is; a contemporary exploitation movie, you’ll find it quite satisfying.
Bloody Brilliant… Almost.