If you’re looking for a twisting, labyrinthian plot, don’t come to Revenge. But if you’re looking for a visceral, balls to the walls story of bloody, brutal vengeance, well, here’s your movie. Let’s just strip it down. A wealthy man brings along his mistress on a trip to the American Southwest; a couple of his sleazy friends show up; the young woman ends up raped, thrown off a cliff and left for dead miles in the the desert. Miraculously, she doesn’t die; cue extreme bloodshed as she deals out satisfyingly grotesque and violent revenge on the men who richly, richly deserve it. It’s a modern twist on the exploitation movie that feels absolutely of the moment. The film is directed by a woman and perhaps that explains a couple of the twists on the usual formula; in one of the film’s most surprising moment, the camera discreetly pans away from the actual rape, offering none of the titillating nudity that was always one of the most problematic elements of the old-school movies of this kind. But this is quite possibly the bloodiest movie I’ve ever seen, so it’s not for the faint of heart. But it’s anchored by a couple of really, really great performances. Kevin Jannsens is fantastic as the wealthy man having an affair with the young woman at the heart of the film; he’s a sociopathic wonder and, not to spoil anything, there’s a moment during the confrontation between him and his mistress near the end of the film that drew a sustained burst of applause from the crowd in my theater. Vincent Colombe is repulsive, gruesome and unstable as the perpetrator of the rape. I have to admit that Matilda Lutz’ performance isn’t exactly groundbreaking. I was hoping to get to see her really just go wild emotionally, but she kind of turns into an unemotional violence machine by the end of the film. Still, she tracks her progress from a flighty, somewhat stupid party girl to a determined soldier of sorts really well and the couple of moments when she kind of rings false are brief enough that they don’t detract from the film. Anyway, this is a really intense, incredibly violent film but it’s a masterpiece of immersion and emotional catharsis. It’s gore as release, not just as a shock tactic and it never feels gratuitious exactly, just extreme enough to really create that intense catharsis. This movie sets out to disprove the old cliché and believe me it does. Turns out revenge is a dish best served hot, charred pitch black, but bloody as hell on the inside. 4 stars.
tl;dr – female-directed revenge movie is timely, twisted, intense and cathartic; extremely violent and disturbing, it’s a cry of pure rage for all victimized women. 4 stars