The revenge film is the blunt weapon in the filmmaker’s toolbox. The public’s thirst for blood is quenched by justifiable violence; we get a guilt-free kick because justice is seen to be done. As a genre, it’s effective, but basic. Infinitely more disturbing and stimulating are the films which dissect the whole idea of âârevenge, confronting the public with their own complicity – films like that of Gaspar NoÃ© Irreversible and now the brutal and brilliant directorial debuts of Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, Violation.
Violation is as much a film about trauma as it is revenge. In a timeline shattered by PTSD, the remarkable Sims-Fewer stars as Miriam, a woman visiting her sister (Anna Maguire) and her brother-in-law (Jesse LaVercombe). The sisters cling to a comfort blanket of common history, but it is soon marred with an act of betrayal. Miriam finds herself forced to take revenge. But no careful planning can prepare her – and us – for the visceral realities of the act. The subdued natural light of dawn and dusk elsewhere in the film contrasts with the searing orange of the campfire that drenches violence; the naturalism of the performance is reinforced by ruthless detail in the sound design. It’s exhausting cinema, but extremely intelligent.