Revenge is Best Served...?
Kelly M. Hudson
Revenge is an action/horror film that centers on the rape and, you know, revenge of the wronged woman (played by Matilida Lutz) that is written and directed with great style and verve by a woman (Coralie Fargeat). There’s a lot of hay that’s been made about this movie, especially in our time of #metoo and the continuing struggle and fight for women’s rights. Revenge is a message movie quite adeptly hidden inside a B-movie exploitation flick that pours on the gore and blood in ever-increasing amounts. It is a slick little gem that hopefully won’t go overlooked.
Jen is the mistress of a rich French dude named Richard, who is so handsome he makes your head hurt. She’s beautiful, too, and together they make an almost unbearably gorgeous couple. Turns out Richard is cheating on his wife with Jen, and Jen knows this, but she doesn’t much care. Early indications of her character are that she’s fairly vacuous; she likes to party and fuck and enjoy herself. You know, the kinds of things most people in their early 20’s like to do. When Richard’s two friends show up (they’re going hunting together, in the desert, where the Richard guy has this nice house that Jen and he were partying in together) things start to get strained. When Richard goes out to do an errand, one of the guys decides he’d like a little slice of that sweet ass that Jen has been parading around, and he takes it by force. In other words, he rapes her, deciding that she “asked for it” since she’s been acting so provocative. When Richard returns and Jen tells him what’s happened, he shrugs it off. She’s really just a piece of meat to him so why should he care? When she threatens to expose their relationship to Richard’s wife, things get ugly quick. In a brutal case of “Bro’s before Ho’s,” Richard ends up tossing Jen off the side of a cliff in the desert. She plummets to her supposed death, landing on a jagged tree with a branch jutting out of her stomach. The boys decide to come back in the morning and clean the mess up, and it’s during the night that Jen manages to get free of her entanglement and is reborn, like a fiery Phoenix, ready for revenge.
It’s at this point where the viewer will decide whether or not to stay on board. Jen’s survival is really hard to believe. I mean, she’s dead, man. But she comes back, and you have to make a decision on whether you’re going to stick around for the rest of the ride or not. If you like gore and blood and sweet, blessed revenge, you should stay the course. From here on out, Jen is a force of nature, an almost super-heroine who dishes out bloody justice. There’s gun squibs and a particularly nasty scene where one of the bad guys has to fish broken glass out of the bottom of his foot. It’s deliriously over the top and awesome. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the ending, except to say that Richard gets chased around naked by a vengeful Jen for what seems like an eternity, the two of them drenched in the blood of their affair. It’s a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. And it’s a nice twist, to see the Final Male treated in such a way, completely naked and vulnerable and fighting for his life. Jen really is like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies in this respect: she cannot be stopped.
The only drawback to the film, for me, was its constantly shifting tone. It plays arthouse one minute, gory grindhouse the next, and all the while it peppers in commentary about the ill-treatment of women in our society, and I’m not sure the parts mix as smoothly as I wanted them to. Also, it’s a little long; I felt like about 20 minutes could be cut out. But that’s quibbling, really. What we get is a violent, trashy feminist flick that dishes out the goods. If you’re a horror or exploitation fan, this one is right up your alley. If you’re not, well, you’re probably not reading this, anyway. I definitely recommend the movie for its transgressive nature, its feminist message, and for all that glorious gore. Director Fargeat knows what she’s doing, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
3 ½ Stars out of 4