I never really wanted or felt the need to eat peyote. That is, until I just watched the new revenge-based movie appropriately titled Revenge. Because now – I realize that if I have a tree branch sticking out of my stomach, I can just take a healthy dose of peyote and everything will work itself out! Ok, this isn’t a review for peyote…..this is a review for one of the best (and most brutal) revenge movies I’ve ever seen. Nope, I’m not hallucinating while I type that. It’s true. And I’m going to get into why it’s true right about now.
Revenge starts with some beautiful scenic shots, as our attractive couple Jen (Matilda Lutz) and Richard (Kevin Janssens) are flying via helicopter to Richard’s home in the desert for a getaway/hunting trip. Did I mention Richard is also married? Yeah, he’s a tomcat. Jen is sexy, and she knows it and loves to flaunt the goods. This is even more evident when Richard’s hunting friends Stan and Dimitri arrive early and Jen seductively dances with the former at night while having drinks. The next day, Richard goes on a business run and Stan tries to pursue Jen. Jen refuses, Stanley aggressively rapes her, and Dimitri watches it unfold before going for a casual swim.
Richard returns, consoles Jen, tries to pay her off so she won’t say anything…..oh – and then pushes her off a cliff until she’s impaled by a tree branch. Now, considering the name of the movie is Revenge – then you obviously know that Jen isn’t dead. What you don’t know is what’s going to happen next, because unlike a lot of ‘revenge films’ – there are some little twists and turns here that caught me off-guard. I can tell you that what unfolds is brutal, shocking, and bloody. Now if you’re my kind of moviegoer, then that should grab your attention for sure.
Revenge movies are a fairly common plotline in cinema, and the more specific ‘rape/revenge’ plotline is nothing new when it comes to horror movies (I Spit On Your Grave, The Last House On The Left). So, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Coralie Fargeat’s directorial debut (she also wrote the script) because as I’ve stated – the subject matter isn’t exactly fresh. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement though, as Fargeat definitely puts her stamp on the subgenre. This movie is gorgeous to look at (a shot of blood hitting the sand with ants in the line of fire comes to mind) and the violence is as beautiful as it is stomach-churning. Also, the accompanying soundtrack score by Robin Coudert gives a retro 80’s synth feel that never gets old.
High five to Matilda Lutz and her backside for pulling the viewers in from the beginning, and then taking them along on her crazy blood-soaked ride to redemption. The scene with the peyote in the cave…..whew. It takes a lot to make me almost look away from the screen, and this came close. Nice ‘phoenix rising’ reference with the beer can btw. The supporting assholes, oops – I mean characters – all did well too because you realllllllly wanted all of them to get their comeuppance.
Ok. Let’s talk about the blood. Because there’s a lot of it. I already mentioned the peyote scene…..and then there’s the ‘glass in the foot scene’. And the ending gets very messy as well. The reason I’m highlighting this is because Coralie Fargeat went (from what I could mostly see) the practical effects route and did not rely on the groan-inducing CGI blood. High praise from me regarding that and the level of gore in general.
Not much on the negative side to say about Revenge, other than that it could have been trimmed a little in the runtime department. Clocking in at about 110 minutes, it does only slightly drag in the middle – but for the most part it kept me on the edge of my seat and didn’t wear out it’s welcome. The only other thing that I could see people complaining about is the ‘suspension of belief’ side of things as Jen attempts to survive her impalement. Just push it to the side of your mind and enjoy the ride.
Wow – finally a film this year that clearly lived up to the hype! Revenge grabbed me by the balls and never let go. And I usually like to have my balls let go after being held for an excessive amount of time. Coralie Fargeat is a director to watch moving forward, as she has given this subgenre a much needed stylized and bloody boost. Riveting stuff for the eyes and a sheer crowd-pleaser in general, Revenge should be on everyone’s radar and if it’s not – well, then I’m sending Jen to make you reconsider.
(4 Out Of 5)