Jen (Matilda Lutz) is enjoying a romantic getaway with her wealthy boyfriend (Kevin Janssens) until his two sleazy friends (Vincent Colombe and Guillaume Bouchède) arrive for an unannounced hunting trip. As tension mounts in the house, the situation abruptly and viciously intensifies, culminating in a shocking act that leaves Jen brutalised and left for dead. Unfortunately for her assailants, she survives and soon begins a relentless quest for bloody revenge.
Revenge was a movie I had been hearing about for some time, mainly that it was a graphic French revenge movie that is really good. Rape revenge is a sub-genre I haven’t exactly come across until now, nor was it one I was particularly looking to start watching, but I guess this is my first movie in the genre, and it was a pretty good flick at that. Definitely not an easy watch but it was very well made movie for what it is.
Revenge as you can probably tell, is a revenge movie and in that it follows the familiar tropes that come with it, plotwise it doesn’t really do anything unpredictable or different. For the first half it fails to do much special things as all it does is fall into the familiar beats that are to be expected from a typical revenge movie. The story and characters aren’t given much depth and are very simplistic. With that said, there is an understanding that this is what the movie was going for, a straightforward and bloody revenge flick, and in that it really succeeds. I can’t really talk about how it compares to other rape revenge movies but I’ve seen a few exploitation movies, and it really fits right in that genre. Despite some of the dark and violent things that happen, it doesn’t quite feel tasteless. Also know that despite how grimy and gritty this movie can get, it’s not the most realistic of revenge stories. For example, the attempt on the lead character’s life was being pushed off a cliff onto a cactus and being brutally impaled, she literally shouldn’t be alive for longer than an hour. It’s not a big deal, just worth noting going in. At under 2 hours long, once it starts with the main character going after the 3 antagonists, it has your attention all the way to the end.
As I mentioned previously, Revenge doesn’t have particularly well written or interesting characters but the cast played their roles quite well. One of the film’s strong parts is Matilda Lutz in the lead role, she was great. The only other movie I’ve seen Lutz in was Rings, a movie that I really didn’t like. It seemed it didn’t showcase her talents very well because she’s great in Revenge. She is very convincing at the revenge parts of the movie, at the same time she’s never necessarily always on top of things, really well balanced. It’s pretty clear that her character is not used to all of this and still feels vulnerable throughout the entire movie. After the failed attempt on her life, I don’t think she had any lines throughout the rest of the movie, yet she was able to act so well with very little. The 3 men who Matilda go up against, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe and Guillaume Bouchède, work well enough. They are pretty standard villains and don’t have a lot to them but do enough to make themselves seem like human beings instead of just one note evil antagonists.
Probably what makes Revenge stand out from other revenge movies is the direction by Coralie Fargeat, which was great. Even though it didn’t start out particularly strong or gripping, the direction was just so incredible that I was kept interested during the early sections of the movie. Even before all the violence starts, it is pretty effectively uncomfortable early on, such as the way it focusses on things like a mouth chewing food or ants on a partly eaten apple. Apparently Fargeat was inspired by the likes of Tarantino and it shows throughout Revenge. It is an incredibly brutal and graphic movie, not for the faint of heart at all. Imagine the blood and gore from a typical Quentin Tarantino movie, then double it. It might actually be one of the most violent movies I’ve seen, certainly the most violent to come from 2018. Not so much that it unsettled or disturbed me (I have a very strong stomach for movie violence), it’s just that there are large portions that I was just amazed by the amount of blood on screen. It can be a particularly ugly movie at times, and while with some movies it can be very offputting and work against it, it really worked for Revenge. It is a stunning looking movie, and it really places you right there alongside these characters in the hot desert.
Revenge definitely isn’t for everyone. It is an incredibly violent movie and if you’re squeamish in the slightest, definitely don’t watch it. It has some faults with it being a little too similar to other revenge movies and doesn’t do much to make it stand out from the rest, but on the whole, I still liked it quite a lot. Coralie Fargeat’s direction was incredibly effective and particularly impressive, and Matilda Lutz was great in the lead role. If you like watching exploitation movies and can stomach a lot of extreme violence, give Revenge a shot, it might be right up your alley.