REVENGE (France 2017) ****
Directed by Coralie Fargeat
REVENGE borrows from many classic films like MAD MAX, THE HUNTING PARTY and female stalker movies to provide another gore fest in which victim becomes hunter with a few more tricks on display. This is French director Carolie Fargeat’s debut feature shot in both French and English and an impressive one at that. She presented her film at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, proving that she talent as well as beauty.
A rich businessman, Richard (Kevin Janssens) takes his mistress, Jen (Italian model Matilda Lutz) on a getaway in a gorgeous mansion by a desert. His two hunting friends, Stanley (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède )show up and abuse her while he goes off on a chore for two hours. Instead of being on her side, Richard takes his friends side. When she threatens to tell his wife, Richard pushes her off a cliff. She survives. They hunt her down while she, turns the table on them.
The film is the real BATTLE OF THE SEXES and one that is relevant considering how women have ben abused by celebrities like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Crosby. Fargeat’s strong feminist imprint is present in her frill from start to finish. She shows that the female is not a plaything and if treated as one with disrespect, will come fighting back for REVENGE.
Fargeat’s film is gorgeous to look at in all respects from the exterior landscape to the interior sets. The stunning desert landscape that includes one pool of water, as well as the cliffs are well photographed. The mansion in the middle of the reset with its swimming pool is a marvel in modern architecture. Around 20% of the film is set in the darkness in the dead of night. The cinematography by Robrecht Heyvaert is nothing short of magnificent with just enough light to see what is happening in the dead of the desert night.
This French horror slasher can be seen to be quite different from the American counterparts. REVENGE is ultra violent, flashy with less distracting humour and hardly any false alarms (excepting the nightmare sequences) and cheap tricks to jolt the audience. Fargeat’s attention to detail like the blood dripping on the ant in the desert and the one hunting friend chewing a crunchy chocolate bar while a rep is going on is particularly menacing.
A few gory set-ups include one where a man extracts chards of glass from the base of his foot and another with Jen tending to her wounds with the aluminium of a red hot beer can. The latter segment lasts a full 10 minutes and almost too gruesome to watch, while Jen takes peyote so that she will be unable to feel the pain while tending the wounds.
The climatic scene is full of inventive cat-and house chasing complete with Richard applying Saran wrap around his wounds.
It will be a very eager wait for Fargeat’s next film.