wed 29/05/2024

Revenge - a blood-soaked joy | reviews, news & interviews

Revenge - a blood-soaked joy

Revenge - a blood-soaked joy

Never have desert landscapes and graphic self-surgery looked so good

Deep in an unnamed desert, a violent and psychedelic retribution is sought. The aptly named Revenge is a brutally rewarding experience, bringing classic horror and exploitation tropes kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

It is the debut feature from French writer/director Coralie Fargeat, who combines a low opinion of men, visual panache and disturbing imagination to create a taut, bright thrill ride.

We begin at a villa, where the smug, rich Richard (Kevin Jannsens, pictured below right) has brought his mistress Jen (Matilda Lutz, pictured below left) for some fun before a hunting trip. She is dressed like a Barbie and says even less, consciously playing the role of a living fantasy. However, things become uncomfortable when Richard’s two hunting friends arrive early. She is immediately isolated, unable to speak French and surrounded by the kind of men who ask rhetorical questions and demand answers.

Matilda Lutz and Kevin Jannsens in Revenge

After an innocent night of drinking and dancing, unwanted advances from one of Richard’s friends soon turns to full on assault. Attempts from the men to pay Jen off are unsuccessful, so Richard pushes her off a cliff to save a court case. She is impaled on a tree but fails to die. Instead, through perseverance and extreme gore, she rises to exact her revenge, hunting the three across the scorched sands in increasingly madcap sequences.

Revenge is a shocking but incredibly fun movie, successfully producing the high-end grindhouse thrills that Tarantino and Rodriguez attempted. The tension builds to fever pitch as power shifts from the men to Jen, who gradually transforms from victim to Rambo-cum-Lara Croft. The film doesn’t worry itself with realism – there’s no revenge if the lead succumbs to blood loss and heat exhaustion within 30-minutes. Instead, we’re treated to the surreal and humorous violence of Dario Argento’s giallos, with people surviving extreme injury, only to go poking around in close-up.

However, this isn’t the gore-porn of Eli Roth and co. The film knowingly plays with the expectations of the genre: establishing shots of Jen linger across her body like a standard MTV horror, but continue this trend once she becomes scarred and disfigured. There might be less of her than when she started, but as she stands tall over their corpses, she’s much more than who she was.  

Kevin Jannsens in Revenge

As a debut film, Revenge is a directorial tour de force. From peyote drug trips to wild show downs, Coralie Fargeat orchestrates it all with complete control and intimidating confidence. Gore permitting, it’s gorgeous to look at, with every shot perfectly composed (bar one where the camera crew is so obvious in a car reflection, they deserve a cast credit). The desert is a hyper-saturated hellscape, reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the set-pieces share similar ambition, even if the scale is limited by budget.

The plot is simple and the dialogue limited, but credit to Fargeat for raising every aspect of the film. The imagery, the subtext, and the outright wildness are all better than they have any right to be. For a shot of adrenaline in your next cinema trip, look no further – a future cult classic for sure.


We’re treated to the surreal and humorous violence of Dario Argento’s giallos


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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