Directed by: #MelanieAitkenhead
Written by: #TimothyDurham
Grimmfest Film Review by: Darren Tilby
Rape-revenge films are nothing new, that is for sure, and their origin can be traced back to around the early 70s, as a subgenre of exploitation film. But with the Romeo and Juliet romance at the film’s heart, its percipient understanding of rape culture and stellar cast, Director Melanie Aitkenhead has put together a movie that succeeds at being more than just another copycat splatterfest.
A group of four frat boys run afoul of an all-girl biker gang – The Dark Moons – after three of them drug and rape Mary (Vanessa Dubasso), the cousin of Maggie (Serinda Swan, in an incredibly nuanced turn), one of its members, at a college house party. Led by the merciless Trigga (Pollyanna McIntosh, channelling her inner Negan), the girls, all of whom have, themselves, experienced rape, ride out for revenge. But as Maggie becomes romantically involved with Brian (Diego Boneta), the fourth, and only innocent, member of the group, Trigga’s methods are called into question, and her revenge ride turns to all-out war.
Now, as the viewer, all-out war is precisely what we expect. But there is no denying this seems a little one-sided. A gang of around a dozen tough-as-nails, bad-ass biker chicks who have been through hell and high water with one another, against three entitled college kids, each with a hilariously misplaced superiority complex, does not really seem fair, football all-stars or not. But I believe there is an excellent reason for this, which I will discuss later. But first, we need to talk about the film’s construction.
While you wouldn’t necessarily call this a “gory” movie, there is certainly some brutal imagery and action pieces, and, of course, the rape scene. For my part, I think the rape itself, while obviously horrific, was handled well; most of the action happens off-screen, and it is not something we are subjected to for too long. And it is the same for those rare moments of brutality, which, while never on-screen for long, are brought to life with the use of some fantastic practical effects. Eitan Almagor’s cinematography, too, is tightly shot and splendidly lit. The only aspect of the film that suffers in this regard is its narrative, as, at times, it feels a little laboured. There are also issues with the finale: it is an abrupt end; an anti-climactic end, and it is one that does not seem to have much of a point.
Now, continuing my point from earlier, and why I think Revenge Ride deserves so much praise, despite its shortcomings. The very notion that these three frat boys alone even have a shot at defeating the gang may seem ridiculous to the viewer—and it kind of is. But as it happens (and here is my theory), it serves to perfectly illustrate just how little of women these guys think.
And when one views it like that, it becomes quite clear that this is what the girls are really fighting back against; what women in our society, right now, are really fighting back against. Revenge Ride is less about men vs women or revenge, and much more about the systemic sexism and misogyny that allows people and attitudes like this to not only exist—but thrive.