Arriving at her wealthy, married boyfriend Richard’s (Kevin Janssens) remote, secluded desert hideaway, a hideaway so remote it can only be reached by helicopter, Jen (a wonderful Matilda Lutz) soon finds their sweaty, romantic, weekend getaway rudely interrupted by the sudden arrival of his sleazy friends and business partners, Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède), who have arrived a day early for their annual boys only hunting trip.

After a drink and drug-fueled night of partying, Richard makes the mistake of leaving Jen alone with his hungover buddies while he sorts out their hunting paperwork and Stan makes a clumsy pass at Jen. After Jen rebuffs him, Stan viciously rapes her, Dimitri complicitly ignoring her tortured screams.

When Richard returns to find his traumatised mistress demanding to go home, his first instinct is “bros before hos” and he sides with his buddies, tries to limit the damage Jen can do by offering to buy her off and find her a job in Canada. But the situation escalates when an enraged Jen threatens to expose their affair to his wife and Richard lashes out angrily, drawing the film’s first blood. It won’t be the last.

Chased into the desert and, shockingly betrayed by her lover, Jen survives against all the odds. The hunters are about to become the hunted…

Slick, lurid and brutally beautiful, sisters are doing it for themselves in French writer/director Coralie Fargeat’s debut feature; a gory, hyperviolent and, crucially, blackly funny slice of rape revenge/survival horror that slyly riffs on both the New French Extremity and the gender politics of the #MeToo movement to create a feminist fantasy of savage empowerment that plays with the expected tropes of exploitation cinema even as it subverts them.

Skimpily dressed and sucking on a lollipop, refreshingly Lutz’s Jen is no naïve innocent; she is a sexy, confident young woman who’s having an affair with a wealthy married man, using her sexuality to get noticed and get what she wants. She plays the coquette but she’s always in her control. Like the plush desert villa, the swimming pool and the quad bikes however, to Richard she is just one more of his acquisitions, an object to be admired and used for his pleasure, disposed of when he’s finished, quite literally thrown away, Richard pushing her from a cliff to what he assumes will be her death.

Battered, bloody and wounded, she transforms herself through pain, suffering and mescaline-fueled DIY surgery into an angel of vengeance and it’s a testament to Lutz’s talent that she’s as believable as Valkyrie as she is nymphet, Fargeat’s camera lingering as lovingly on her wounds as it had earlier on her lithe body as she essentially emasculates the trio of toxic males hunting her, violating their bodies with bullets, blades and shards of glass just as she herself has been violated.

It’s a physically and emotionally grueling, star-making performance, Lutz instantly achieving iconic, ass-kicking Final Girl status, but the true star of the film is Fargeat herself. For a debut feature Revenge is a wild, hallucinatory rollercoaster ride that confidently announces the arrival of a fresh, vibrant voice to French cinema. Lushly shot and crisply edited, Fargeat doesn’t just abandon realism, she batters it into unconsciousness, deploying a vivid, day-glo colour palette to create a stylised, hyper-reality where thick drops of blood crash to the ground like falling meteors, heads explode, sexual assault is drowned out by that most toxically masculine sport of Grand Prix racing and corridors literally run red, Fargeat splashing so much blood and gore up the walls of Richard’s villa it starts to look like the Overlook Hotel.

Gruesome, gory, sexy and brutal, Revenge is a thrilling, intense, visceral experience that’ll leave you breathless.

DVD Review: Revenge
5.0Overall Score
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