The wave of female revenge movies for the #MeToo era continues. The latest addition to this updated subgenre is Violation. From the dialogue to the brutal kill scenes, Violation is intense, uncompromising, and further proof of the genre’s continued evolution.
Written and directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Violation centers around a reunion of sorts between sisters Miriam (Sims-Fewer) and Greta (Anna Maguire), whose relationship is strained and whose marriages have their own woes. Their relationship only worsens after Greta’s husband, Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe), rapes Miriam. Greta doesn’t believe her, underscoring the point that too often, female victims aren’t believed. Even Miriam’s sister refuses to hear her story.
The film doesn’t follow a linear narrative necessarily. Scenes cut back and forth between present and past, including the lead-up to the rape. This is juxtaposed with vicious and visceral scenes in which Miriam kills Dylan and disposes of his body in meticulous fashion. Dylan’s body becomes an utter spectacle, a stark contrast to old horror tropes that showed full-frontal female nudity and the subsequent rape and/or kill. This time, the male is subject to sexual objectification and violence, but only as punishment for his heinous crime.
The various ways that Miriam hides the evidence disturbs as much as the moment she enacts revenge once Dylan strips and talks about an erotic fantasy he had about her. She thinks of everything and doesn’t leave a trace behind. Who knew you could hide blood in laundry detergent containers?
Sims-Fewer deserves heaps of credit not only for handling writing and directing duties, but also for her grounded, yet bold performance. Further, LaVercombe makes for a good villain, a macho hunter of sorts who always has a knife at his side and boasts that Greta now eats meat because of him. She even knows how to skin a rabbit and doesn’t mind showing off these newfound skills to her sister, despite Miriam’s dismay and disgust.
Adam Crosby’s cinematography deserves accolades, too, especially for his shots rooted in the natural world, including close-ups of running water or long and middle shots of the forest. At first, they may seem confusing, but they’re a beautiful sight to behold. They also make more sense later as Miriam’s clean-up duties continue. Even a tight shot of a wolf eating a rabbit is oddly mesmerizing and contains the same sort of affecting spell that the rest of the film has. You simply can’t look away.
To add, Andrea Boccadoro’s score largely contains classical music, and when it’s featured with Crosby’s stellar cinematography and some of the non-linear narrative, it has an arresting sort of effect. The film’s only real flaw is its ambiguous ending. Perhaps viewers will see it as some closure between the sisters, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions and mars an otherwise strong film.
It’s been thrilling to see the number of smart, female-directed revenge films released over the last few years that challenge old tropes and push the genre forward. Violation is the latest. From the visuals to the lines of dialogue, the film is an emotionally charged experience that sticks with you days after you watch it. I can’t wait to see what Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli do next.
Violation releases on Shudder on March 25.
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