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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Revenge (2017) Horror Rape Revenge

Revenge (2017) - The rape revenge genre is a tricky business to get into for a film maker. If the moral presentation is blurred just a little the results are exploitative in such a negative way that it will turn off the critics and audiences. There is a fine line between a dramatic incident to further the plot and cruel voyeurism of a characters plight. There has been a lot written in recent time defending "I Spit on Your Grave"  as a feminist example in the sub genre of rape revenge films. Although there are fine arguments made about it, I still feel the way that the camera lingers on the rape scenes is extremely exploitative. Stark and brutal, pulling no punches, it make the viewer experience the event in a sickening way before the revenge half of the film takes over. I don't feel it is 100% successful in its desire to be feminist in its approach even though it may be trying.
 Writer / Director Carolie Fargeat with cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert and music by Robin Coudert seem to have created a far better narrative in this film. Playing with the roles that the audience is expecting Fargeat teases the audience and then pulls the rug out from them. She works hard to create an impression about who these characters are and then allowing the growth of something new and interesting. Heyvaert makes the desert landscape look beautiful, tight close up for intimacy and wonderful tracking shots that bring the action alive,  add to it the pulsing music by Coudert that enhances the viewing experience and you have a great looking and sounding film. The direction is spot on and the script surprising and well better than most films in this genre.
  Early on we are introduced to two of the four actors that will play this story out. Richard (Kevin Janssens) is a super wealthy married man who has brought his mistress Jen (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) to his desert hunting getaway. Starting his trip a couple day early he will be joined by his hunting pals and Jen will be gone leaving the men to hunt. The introduction of these two is done to show that Jen is a girl happy to be sleeping with this rich guy, the shots of her are Lolita-escque with closeups of her curves and her sucking a lollipop the whole time. He sees her as an object to be desired and she does not deter this, instead she embraces it. She is seductive and flirtatious and in control. It is an interesting game director Fargeat is playing here, presenting something that may lead the viewer to think that Jen is vacuous and not aware of her situation. When Richards hunting friends appear at the house a day early things get more interesting. Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouch├Ęde) join the party and Jen is presenting as flirtatious and willing to turn the guys on. It is a leading scene, the viewer is given an impression of the woman almost daring them to think, "she is leading men on",  Stan in particular misreads her flirtation to be something more. The next day Richard is out getting the hunting permits and the toxic masculinity contained in Stan come to the forefront. He decides that he has a claim to Jen since she was seductive the night before and in a really awkward conversation he defines her actions and motive. Disregarding her pleas he rapes her.
  Richard for his part as alpha male can only think to pay her off. Not console her or confront his friend or call the police. Jen is not an equal to him, his approach is to make her go away. She is a toy for him to fuck and discard when he wants. No consequences for Stan, or Dimitri who when he walked in just before the rape walked away knowing what was about to happen because she is not their equal. She is a disposable pretty doll. So when she threatens to tall his wife his action is to hit her and put her in her place, she runs an is cornered by the three on a cliff edge you can guess what happens next.
  When the men go to deal with the body and find it gone, they still in their confidence think a simple hunt and the problem will be solved. This is where things get turned upside down. There is more to Jen than anyone has seen thus far. She is a survivor and manages to save herself from impalement and turns the table on the hunters. It is a rape / revenge movie after all so the sinners must be punished. The film is surprising in its incredible visceral gore effects, each injuries is a bloody mess and each bloody mess effects the character injured. The film oozes with blood in an almost fantastical way. This combine with a soundscape dripping, oozing, and gushing with fluid sounds and the film really is something to experience.
  The middle of the film in particular where Jen in a peyote induced trip is removing and cauterizing her the branch she was impaled on is remarkable. She eventually passes out and wakes transformed, a phoenix rising from the ashes ready to do battle with the men who mistreated her. As the hunting for the men goes wrong we are witness to a really great game of cat and mouse but this mouse has sharp teeth. Each man demise is to be reveled in with long takes and smart editing the pacing is just right. The climax is worth every minute of viewing time and as this genre will do gives us the revenge of the title. Not going too into the details is important as each and every one of you should take the time to watch this film. 

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