French filmmaker, Coralie Fargeat’s debut feature Revenge makes Kill Bill look PG. Somehow, amidst the terrifyingly gruesome scenes which have most theatergoers (like myself) watching in between their fingers, every bit of it is an intentional thrill ride. The first half of the movie is shot entirely through the male gaze, following the irresistible Matilda Lutz, who plays Jen as she is whisked away in a helicopter to her rich boyfriends lavish pad in the middle of the desert. Following a night of partying, Jen gets violently assaulted by the boyfriends co-worker while the other co-worker watches with his hand in a bag of potato chips. When she threatens to leave because of the incident, her boyfriend follows her to a cliff and pushes her off which is where the real fun begins. And by fun I mean an insidious hunt for all three men who wronged her. Although we have seen this theme played out many times before, it’s the impressive and relentless performance of Lutz, saddled over the stylish mis-en-scene projected by Fargeat that makes Revenge a film for the ages.
While Revenge disguises itself as a non-stop action thriller, the film is mostly quiet with the exception of the near oppressive score and sharp sound editing. The constant ringing nearly mirrors the heart racing and appears to grow in volume as the intensity builds up to the epic bloodbath of a finale.
Unlike other rape-revenge films, I Spit on Your Grave and The Last House on the Left, Revenge feels like a new wave within the horror genre. Fargeat is taking France’s dismissal of the “Me Too” movement and stepping on its throat with this one. Not only is it the only of the three to be directed by a woman. It also appears to be the French reaction to Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” music video and Mad Max: Fury Road where we are once again reminded not to mess with hot girls in the middle of a desert.
Revenge, although not for everyone, is by far one of the greatest movie I’ve seen all year, if not the most relevant and unpredictable. If we can produce films like this, I wonder why we are still making movies with audacious female leads titled The Spy Who Dumped Me. Fargeat has left her mark on horror industry and have given men everywhere something to really be scared of.