Never underestimate the will to live. The determination of survival is key to the story of Revenge, a new French horror film that details the rape and subsequent revenge of one woman whose life is forever changed. The new wave of French horror films started at the turn of the 21st century; such examples include: Martyrs, Inside and High Tension. These movies are filled with bold themes, gruesome violence and of course an excess of gore that would make the casual moviegoer sick to their stomach. There’s no denying their impact. especially from a director in her debut with Revenge. It’s slick, gruesome and one of the most audacious films I’ve seen this year.
The setting and story are simple — a young American socialite, Jennifer (Matilda Lutz), is away for the weekend with her millionaire French boyfriend, Richard (Kevin Janssens). He has a nice home that is located in the desert (I don’t want to assume, but I think it is in France) and has plans for a romantic weekend with his girlfriend leaving his wife and kids unknown of what he’s really doing. The weekend plans go awry when his two hunting pals unexpectedly show up. Stanley (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchede) seem nice and befriend Jennifer when the evening is mixed in with drinks, laughs and some dancing.
The next day is when everything changes. I won’t give anything away but you can guess just by the title that something tragic happens. Jennifer is assaulted and left for dead in a way that is shocking and brutal. I’m grateful that the rape scene itself is hardly shown and is extremely brief. What happens next is the revenge and survival that Jennifer seeks. It’s a tense ride throughout.
There’s no doubt in my mind that most rape/revenge movies are inspired by the one that started it all, I Spit on Your Grave, the controversial movie from 1978. Director Coralie Fargeat (who also penned the screenplay) makes us feel for the victim. She is thrusted into a serious situation for which could result in her death, and when her character arc is complete, she’s a woman who is trying to undo what was done to her. Note: the violence in this movie is very extreme and is a very gory picture, something that I’m not a fan of. I don’t like watching a great deal of violence unless its pertinent to the story at hand, and here everything works to perfection.
Jennifer is treated like a victim who barely survives her ordeal. She’s injured, vulnerable and by the end of it all, has gone through something that we’d only wish would never happen in real life. Jennifer becomes a fighter hell-bent on her revenge given the opportunity that she survived in the first place. What I enjoyed most is how Fargeat handled the material. This isn’t a movie that sugarcoats anything. It’s violent, brutal and something you won’t forget. Seeing Jennifer transform into a survivor reminded me of Lara Croft in a sense, not just the clothes that she’s wearing, but her will to live.
Verdict 5 out of 5
Revenge is a well-made movie that features outstanding performances from the entire cast (which is very small). The cinematography is top-notch, and the pacing is well executed. It’s very violent and extremely gory, so keep that in mind, but if you can look past that, the performances are something that will stay with you long after the end credits roll. The presentation of Revenge is a slam-dunk for a directorial debut and if Fargeat is here to stay in the long-run, then I can’t wait to see what she has in store for future projects. Revenge is one of the most impressively made, gorgeously shot, well-acted and brutal films I’ve seen this year! It’s also a marvelous achievement from a woman director whose debut film is like getting hit in face with a cream pie — it will shock you beyond belief.