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REVENGE (2017)

Directed by Coralie Fargeat
Written by Coralie Fargeat
Starring Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède

Though I’m not a fan of the rape/revenge genre, I do know that some compelling films have come from it. There have also been films that celebrate the rape part, which is why the subgenre of horror has such a bad taste to it. When the focus is on the revenge aspect of it, I feel this is when the subgenre is strongest and REVENGE is one of the most stylish and dare I say, entertaining entry into the subgenre in ages.

Jen (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) is enamored with Richard (Kevin Janssens), a very rich and powerful businessman who has a palatial oasis in the middle of the California desert. Richard is also very married, but Jen doesn’t seem to mind, as she revels in the beautiful pool, spacious glass house, and gorgeous landscape. But when Richard’s two hunting buddies come by for a few days of tracking and killing, things get out of hand and one of the friends ends up raping Jen while Richard is off for the day. When Richard returns, he at first is upset with his friend, but his anger is soon pointed at Jen. When Jen fights back and escapes into the desert night, Richard and his new friends decide to hunt her down like an animal. But Jen proves to be tougher to kill than one would think.

About the rape—it is a disturbing scene. The rape is not glossed over or prettied up. The ugly act is depicted exactly that and because we get to know how innocent Jen is, it is heartbreaking to endure with her. I often find that you can measure the morality of a film by the amount of time it focuses on specific actions. The bulk of this film is exactly what the title suggests—REVENGE. Though the rape scene is harrowing, the violence that occurs afterwards is even more potent. The pure carnage that occurs as Jen enacts her wrath on these rat bastards is truly monumental, filled with gallons and gallons of blood and gore. By the end of this film, the entire glass home, as well as half the desert, is covered in a thick layer of blood. And given the horrible act that happens to Jen, it feels good to see every drop of that blood spilt.

Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz is phenomenal as Jen. Not only is she gorgeous in every way, she is also able to convey both innocence and viciousness convincingly. This is a horrifically strenuous role, but Lutz is no waif that looks like a stiff breeze can knock her over. She undergoes a transformation as this film goes on that is utterly believable and that is all because of Lutz’s star-making performance. The other star here is director Coralie Fargeat who takes a rugged landscape and tells a rugged story around it. This is a highly stylized film, one that might seem unfitting for a film dealing with rape. But Fargeat somehow does the unthinkable and makes every second feel authentic as well as unbelievably cool. From a visual standpoint, REVENGE is tops. There are some amazing moments contrasting the “safe” space inside the home with the desert surrounding it as well as moments drenched in differing colors matching the mood of the action within the frame. This film is done with an artist’s eye and still conveys its heavy themes effectively.

This review comes with a warning. If rape offends you (and I don’t know and don’t want to know anyone that isn’t put off by the concept), you might want to steer clear of REVENGE. The film does deal with this horrific act with a mature and serious hand. Then again, the focus of this one is on the revenge aspect of the rape/revenge subgenre. For me, that makes it much more digestible. REVENGE is a stunning and impactful film that will tear at your heart while splashing you in the face with gallons and gallons of blood and violence.

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