Rating 4/5 – Revenge is one of those movies that’s going to fly completely under the radar unless word of mouth or DVD/VOD sales saves it. The fact is, they did not advertise Revenge at all, as if there wasn’t a budget for it. And there probably wasn’t. It’s a very simple premise we’ve seen a million times before. The most famous in the US being I Spit on Your Grave and a bunch of others that littered the 1970’s and 1980’s I couldn’t remember for you unless I did a serious Google search. The problem with the rape/revenge movie is it tends to be aimed at men which might lead you to ask, “How the fuck does that work.” Easy. Go listen to Fanboys who are in the 40’s or above and they will always site some naked scene in some movie as the one that began their puberty in some way. Or, if you want to bring it down to brass tax, they saw boobs at an age where seeing naked boobs was on the list of taboos. So rape/revenge movies tended to eroticize the rape, having the camera center on the female body as if it’s a porn movie rather than a rape/revenge horror film. That’s some trick. With Revenge you get a visceral rape/revenge where the rape happens pretty much off camera but is not in any way implied – it’s extremely explicit in both story flow and context and the rest of the inciting incident is how the victim is treated in and around the incident.
Revenge – Only Bad Girls Have Sex. . .Wait, what?
One of the dumbest tropes of any horror or revenge action movie is how the girls who are attacked are the sexist idea of what’s a “good girl” and what’s a “bad girl.” Western think especially bares this psychotic idea out in that they want a girl who doesn’t have sex to have sex, but once she has sex she’s suddenly the bad girl. Is it any wonder that woman have a hard time getting justice when they are attacked as anything that relates to this insane idea of “bad girl” gets played as if they are completely responsible for some sociopath attacking them? “What were you wearing?” “Did you kiss him” “Were you dancing sexy.” “Did you go home with him?” This is not a something that’s assumed as you can look at any rape and case see the whole “was your skirt too short” is an actual defense and a stupid one to boot. Revenge flips that by making the main character the quintessential “bad girl.” She a young woman having an affair with a married guy who follows him to a private retreat for some private time when two of his sleazy buddies show up. She flirty with them, which leads to the rape and the aftermath where her own married boyfriend tries to bribe her to forget about it with an actual “Well you’re so sexy he couldn’t help himself” line. When she doesn’t react by being grateful for the bribe the three men leave her for dead and the rest of movie centers on her getting revenge against all three.
Revenge, a Horror Movie?
Revenge is defined as a horror movie which I found a little weird. There are no ghosts, they woman did not die and none of the usual tropes that go with horror movies are present except for a lot of blood. Oh yeah, this one gets bloody like the aforementioned 1970’s and 1980’s horror movies used to get bloody. There’s eyeball stabbing, gut gunshots, the bleeding out trail of blood and a final that makes a lot of the zombie movies look like Disney cartoons by comparison. But is it a “horror movie?” I don’t agree. I’d call it an action revenge movie on the same vein of Death Wish (the original, not psycho republican Bruce Willis’ really bad remake) or Payback and Get Carter. The woman in question starts out as a “sexy lamp” background character up and until she gets attack and left for dead. Then it becomes a stalking movie where you are not feeling bad for any of the men involved in the thing. I think if they are going to do these kinds of movies maybe they should leave it in the hands of a female director because it doesn’t try to make it a “watch the half-naked woman run around with a gun” and more like “holy shit, these dudes are fuck and I hope they get it with no Vaseline.” Exactly where a rape/revenge movie should go, every single time. Because usually these movies are framed where you have your group of rapists but there will be that “one good guy” caught up with the gang in some way shape or form and he would be the hapless victim of these one seeking revenge.
Blood, Lots of Blood
The only reason I can think of for this being defined as a horror movie is all the blood, and there’s a lot of it. I’m not kidding. I spoke on the last scene with the “final guy”, but honestly it’s one of those “you have to see this one to believe it” scenes you couldn’t describe without spoiling the shit. It subverts the “stalked while naked” trope of too many horror movies by having the hot guy being the one naked and being stalked (and, sorry ladies, no phallic shots in this one) and one of the most clever uses of the male gaze I’ve ever seen. By the time it’s ended you see actual character growth in that the main character starts out as the typical movie “bad girl” and ends up ready to join Sarah Conner is beheading some terminators. The best part is she given no dialogue as she goes from party girl to victim to Huntress. It’s all told through her DIY revenge, the look in her eyes and how she takes out her attackers. And talk about ever more clever imagery: She started her revenge quest covered in her blood and ends it covered in the blood of her attackers. The final scene is a poster level shot that I’d have on my wall anytime.
Not since Sweet Viscous have I found a rape/revenge story that is worth watching like Revenge is. It’s not a holding back movie that’s afraid to get down and dirty when the bullets start flying and a character growth that is both completely interesting and satisfying in its conclusion. This movie is not for the weak hearts and if you’re going there expecting boobs, go somewhere else. The is a straightforward, “tell its story then leave” movie that does not overstay it’s welcome and gives you a revenge story you can get with. It’s totally worth watching if you get the chance and one of those movies that should not have flown under the radar like it did.