French filmmaker Coralie Fargeat makes a spectacularly violent debut with her feminist spin on the rape-revenge thriller. If you usually find the genre icky and exploitative, try this – but only if you’ve got the stomach for an abattoir’s worth of blood in one movie. It really is gruesome; paramedics had to be called to treat a member of the audience who couldn’t take it at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.
Matilda Lutz is Jen, the trophy girlfriend of Richard (Kevin Janssens), a smarmy millionaire CEO with the jawline of Barbie’s Ken. The two are staying at a luxury lodge in the middle of the desert before his annual boys’ hunting trip. Jen is supposed to be leaving before his two buddies arrive, but when they show up a night early she’s raped and left to die. Instead, like a cross between Uma Thurman in ‘Kill Bill’ and Lara Croft, she rises to wreak vengeance.
What’s interesting about ‘Revenge’ is that it’s told from a female perspective – and by a female filmmaker. Fargeat doesn’t linger on the rape. She’s more interested in what caused it: the rapist’s sense of entitlement; his buddy’s ‘well, she asked for it’ shrug afterwards. But, boy, does she go to town on the violence. I didn’t need an ambulance, but then I was watching my hands rather than the movie during the goriest bits.