Revenge (4 stars)

Revenge

Satisfying and stylish French rape-revenge horror from debut director Coralie Fargeat

From Jennifer's Body to All Cheerleaders Die, if modern horror movies have taught us anything it's that you should never underestimate the 'hot chick'. Written and directed by Coralie Fargeat, her feature debut represents a welcome dose of feminism-fuelled subversion as she presents her own take on the rape-revenge narrative.

Described by its director as somewhere between Kill Bill and Deliverance, it begins when Richard (Kevin Janssens) touches down in a helicopter, his lollipop-sucking lover in tow. Sweet-talking his wife over the phone while a baby screams in the background, Richard is every inch the affluent, adulterous asshole. The mistress in question is Jen (Italian actress Matilda Lutz) and the pair are all set for a couple of days of canoodling in his remote holiday home before his annual hunting trip with buddies. When said pals rock up early, one of them, Stan (Vincent Colombe), takes a sinister shine to Jen. After Stan attacks her, Richard's inaction leads to a violent confrontation and to Jen fleeing into the desert.

At first we're forced to see Jen through the men's agog eyes – as a perky exhibitionist who wears her sexuality loud and proud and brags of an inane desire to simply be noticed. However, once freed from the male gaze, the character is reinvented as a scrappy survivor and then someone altogether more dangerous, the camera lingering instead on her hard-earned battle wounds, which act as stark manifestations of her strength. Jen fighting back is an affront to these guys, who consider her inferior, disposable and believe they have the god given right to the upper hand.

It's crisply shot by Robrecht Heyvaert, with colours that pop and numerous stylistic flourishes. There are classic horror mistakes ('I'm not sure splitting up is a good idea,' remarks one soon-to-be ex-bastard), while exploding heads and gushing wounds are also par for the course in a film that's often wonderfully demented and provides Lutz with an ever-evolving, physically challenging role to get her teeth into. Dismissed as a bimbo, reborn as a bad-ass – this bitch bites back.

General release from Fri 11 May.

Revenge

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • France
  • Directed by: Coralie Fargeat
  • Cast: Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Guillaume Bouchède

Smooth-talking Richard (Janssens) invites his mistress Jen (Lutz) on a hunting trip to the desert, where one of his pals takes a shine to her; after a violent confrontation, Jen comes back for revenge. Feminist-fuelled, wonderfully demented rape-revenge story, crisply shot and with a challenging role for Lutz to get her…

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