Second Sight Films breaths new life into one of the most highly regarded rape revenge films in recent years with a glittering limited edition blu-ray release for gore-hungry audiences to relive every nail-biting, bloodthirsty second in glorious high definition. Revenge is a genre movie that panders to the #metoo movement proving to be an astonishingly strong and polished debut feature for its director, Coralie Fargeat.
Revenge is a stylish, provocative and artfully shot ordeal horror that spins the tale of Jen (Matilda Lutz), a flawed young woman who just got involved with the wrong man! Jen enjoys a steamy getaway with her married lover, Richard (Kevin Janssens) which soon becomes clouded when she realises their dalliance isn’t for the long-haul. Their erotic weekend is soon disturbed by the arrival of Richard’s associates, the deplorable Stan (Vincent Colombe) and grotesque, Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède). The grossly entitled men think they can get away with their depraved behaviour but following a shocking and unexpected incident all hell breaks loose, and these three men are going to wish they never disrespected women ever again!
At first, Revenge takes the slow-burn route, biding its time in establishing its characters and the brewing situation. Fargeat ensures that the tension can be cut with a knife before going for the metaphorical jugular in an unrelenting frenzy of ultraviolence and heart-pounding intensity.
The incredible cinematography of the vast dessert contrasts the unbridled amount of intricate gore effects on display. Revenge doesn’t hold back whatsoever on the violence with a lingering focus on wounds and injury detail which are cinematic sights to behold. Fargeat delivers a real visceral viewing experience taking the film to extremely brutal places. That said, Fargeat’s appetite for blistering on-screen violence is toned down when it comes to the harrowing notion of Jen’s rape. Instead of opting for gratuity and an uncalled-for level of mean-spiritedness, the camera is taken away from the bedroom where Jen experiences an unspeakable ordeal evoking enough horror without having to traumatize her audience in a visual sense. The fear on Jen’s face coupled with the repulsive close-up of Dimitri eating chocolate then walking away, enabling his friend’s actions and the sounds of Jen’s blood-curdling screams does more than enough to get her point across.
While it could be argued that Jen isn’t portrayed in a sympathetic light at the beginning, Fargeat makes it clear in her social commentary that the common misconception of “she was dressed in a short skirt and low cut top must mean she was asking for it” is inexcusable and no woman deserves to go through what Jen endures no matter who they are or how they dress. The way Jen is shot in earlier scenes is deliberately made to be titillating for the viewer which therefore provokes a challenging talking point relating to the judgements that women unfortunately face. Equally, there is a frequent amount of male nudity on show proving that Fargeat isn’t afraid to place the typical ‘macho male’ types in a vulnerable, objectifying light which is what makes Revenge stand apart from similar films within the genre.
Matilda Lutz gives a striking performance as a woman who just got herself embroiled in a misguided situation. Lutz makes it an effortless feat to route for her as she fights back in her own glorious brutal style. Lutz is barely given a great deal of dialogue which she takes on tremendously, delivering a raw performance mainly based on action and expression which she deserves full praise for. Jen is a resourceful heroine and its empowering watching her overcome her fears and take charge of her own survival.
Lutz is supported by three incredible actors who all play their roles in a convincingly vile manner. The suspense in Revenge keeps the audience at knife point as it deliciously turns the tables between who takes the upper hand and who snatches it back which is effectively compelling and ensures that eyes will be glued to the screen throughout its duration.
The only criticism lies in its pacing as the film drives towards the climax, it does become a little drawn out, over utilizing its prolonged suspense techniques. From its slow burn beginning to its dizzying ending, Revenge is pulsating, rollercoaster ride that you won’t want to get off until it is seen through to the viciously bitter end.
Visually lurid, utterly absorbing and completely accomplished, take Revenge home from the 11th May 2020 courtesy of Second Sight Films. The limited edition blu-ray contains excellent special features to accompany this modern masterpiece from interviews with Coralie Fargeat, Matilda Lutz, cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert and composer Robin Coudert (Rob) who supplied the John Carpenter sounding score to brand new artwork by Adam Stothard, plus much more.