GORE IN THE STORE
Directed by Coralie Fargeat.
Starring Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède, Jean-Louis Tribes.
Horror/Thriller, France/Belgium, 108 mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Limited Edition Blu-ray by Second Sight Films on 11th May 2020.
Second Sight’s new limited edition of Coralie Fargeat’s 2017 festival hit REVENGE is the second time this movie has been released on Blu-ray since that time, and watching it in 2020 gives it a whole new perspective than if you had seen it back then thanks to the rise of the Me Too movement and the revelations that were made public since its debut.
REVENGE is also an apt title because that is exactly what the film is about with very little in the way of fluff or filler to deviate it. The opening scenes show pretty young woman Jen (Matilda Lutz – RINGS) arriving at a secluded house in the middle of the desert with her married lover Richard (Kevin Janssens – QUIZ ME QUICK) for him to go on a hunting trip. However, Richard’s two friends Stan (Vincent Colombe – POINT BLANK) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède – VERMIN) arrive a day early and end up meeting Jen before Richard can get her out of the way, and so the group have a bit of a party.
Then next day Richard is out so Stan makes a move onto a visibly uncomfortable Jen and rapes her as Dimitri turns a blind eye. When Richard returns Jen says she wants to leave but her lover is less than sympathetic, forcing her into a chase that leaves her for dead, or so the men think...
Straightforward, brutal and visually stunning, REVENGE makes an impact on nearly every level thanks to the attention to detail of director Coralie Fargeat, along with the cinematography of Robrecht Heyvaert and pulsing John Carpenter-esque score of Robin Coudert. If you have seen the movie before then it is definitely worth playing film critic Kat Ellinger’s audio commentary in which she picks up on the points that Coralie Fargeat has made a film that basically mirrors itself, meaning that shots and situations set up in the first act play out in almost a mirror image in the final act. Along with other touches that reveal themselves on a second watch, such as the symbolism of an apple that Jen takes a bite out of gradually going rotten as events take a turn for the worst, it shows that Fargeat is creating more than just a stylish grindhouse homage and that the small details are key to getting the most out of the movie.
In the aftermath of the Me Too movement REVENGE becomes a little more frightening thanks to what we now know. For example, the partying scene where Stan is clearly eyeing Jen up takes on a much more sinister edge when you realise the seeds of his later actions are being sown there and her being oblivious. In truth, it was there before thanks to the familiarity of film language but it all feels heightened so when we get to the rape scene it is all the more harrowing, and given that the rape is not lingered upon by the camera and most of it is off-screen it only goes to show what an intelligent filmmaker can do with such grim subject matter without going down the gratuitous route.
But it is after the rape and apparent murder of Jen that the film goes into overdrive with the gore and violence, with Coralie Fargeat making the most of the sparse desert landscape and creating an almost netherworld for the characters to exist in, far away from any civilisation. It is here that the filmmaker’s influences come to the fore, with visual nods to MAD MAX, AMERICAN PSYCHO and RAMBO all blending with the bright blues and dusty browns of the desert – and the neon pink and blue windows of the house – to create something so stylish that every frame could be made into a poster. Even when Jen is covered in blood and transforming from LA glamour girl wannabe to feral survivor on the screen there is a glossy attractiveness to the gruesome detail.
So what is new in this limited edition? As well as the aforementioned audio commentary by Kat Ellinger – which, if you own the previous release, is worth the upgrade alone – there are fairly lengthy interviews with director Coralie Fargeat, actors Matilda Lutz and Guillaume Bouchède, cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert and composer Robin Coudert, all of which gives you plenty of behind-the-scenes information to highlight the thought process that went into making the movie. The disc comes housed in a rigid slipcase with new artwork, plus you get a poster and a book featuring writing on the film by Mary Beth McAndrews and Elena Lazic so this really is a complete package and a big step up from the previous bare bones Blu-ray. Overall, REVENGE is nothing new when it comes to plot but thanks to the creative minds behind it this blood-soaked rape/revenge thriller transgresses its B-movie roots and grows into something much more cerebral and, thanks to the benefit of hindsight, much more powerful.