Following the established structure of its notorious genre yet managing to infuse a refreshing vibe to it, Revenge is a thrilling, engaging & blood-soaked action horror that exhibits all the hallmarks of an exploitation film but what actually separates it from its counterparts is its refusal to sexualise violence against women.
The story follows a young girl who arrives at a secluded mansion with her man to spend a weekend together but soon finds herself being accompanied by two of his friends. Things get out of hand, and the three men leave her for dead in the middle of nowhere. But she somehow manages to survive and then returns to exact her vengeance.
Written & directed by Coralie Fargeat in what’s her directorial debut, the first act of Revenge deliberately captures the lolita from the male gaze perspective, only for the film to later gouge it from our eyeballs once the main plot is set into motion. Fargeat treads the premise carefully so as to not contribute to the rape culture, and delivers justice in blood-splattered glory.
The rape-revenge genre has long been directed for the pleasure of male viewers, often depicting the depraved act in ways that’s not only demeaning to women but it also inadvertently adds to the already prevalent misogyny in society. What Revenge does well is that it takes their absurd defending arguments and uses it against them, thus giving the apologists a taste of their own medicine.
The deserted landscape provide just the right atmosphere for the hunting game to play out over the course of its 108 minutes runtime while the vibrant colour palette, bright lighting & stylish camerawork really uplift the imagery. Editing is finely carried out but the final act is overly stretched, not to mention that there was room for improvement when it comes to pacing. Lastly, its dynamic score aptly livens up the experience.
Scoring high in extreme violence & stomach-churning gore, the film drenches the screen in gallons of blood as our protagonist – excellently played by Matilda Lutz – shoots & slices her tormentors with ruthless aggression. And her badass act only gets better with time as her character becomes more confident & unforgiving in her pursuit of vengeance. The remaining cast play their despicable characters well but it’s Lutz who steals the show.
On an overall scale, Revenge is a vicious, violent & vengeful delight that does what it set out to do and marks a sensational start to Coralie Fargeat’s filmmaking career. There are a few over-the-top moments that the film could have done without but the interest in the journey is never lost. A brutal, barbaric & blood-spilling example of its genre that updates the outdated format of rape-revenge cinema with much-needed modifications, this roaring rampage of retribution isn’t for the easily distressed but the reward is mostly satisfying if you decide to go for it. Definitely recommended.