Julia is a shy girl that after a “Date-trap” finds herself drugged, beaten, brutally raped and left for dead. Instead of going to the police, Julia tries, with no success, to forget what happened to her and move on. However, after overhearing about a special kind of therapy for rape victims like herself that sounds very different from the average support group, Julia decides to give it a try. There she is given the chance to regain the power and the control that she lost on her life, but only if she follows the program as instructed. For if she yields to her anger and tries to seek revenge on her own against her rapists, there will be a very steep price to pay..
For some years I’ve seen several “Rape & Revenge” films, and it seems to me that lately the problem with them is not so much the way they deal with the controversial issue of rape itself, but the fact that the story falls into the same step-by-step formula, trying to push our buttons and go for the shock value; relying only on the blood and the violence the main character (or some times, a relative) can give to the audience on the quest for revenge. Most recent examples in mind could be the “I Spit On Your Grave” remake (and sequels) or “Boys Against Girls”, but every now and then we see movies that try to bring something different to the genre like “American Mary” or innovations on the way the story is presented like “Irreversible”.
Trying to be one of those later examples is “Julia”, which brings a new element to the “tried and true” formula of the revenge flicks, presenting the idea of a support group that goes beyond sitting in circle, talking about their past experiences, looking for someone to blame and closing their meetings with hugs. Under Dr. Sgundud’s guidance, Julia slowly becomes a hunter of those men that only try to get a quick shag with fakes smiles and fat wallets, using a sharp blade and her looks. By being taught at the beginning by Sadie, an enigmatic woman that is as lethal as is beautiful, Julia starts to leave her inhibitions aside, but with her anger still present, and getting stronger after one of Julia’s rapists find her again by chance at her work.
Seeing that clearly her new lessons and therapy might have worked a little too well for her, Julia, excited with the sensation that her new empowerment brings, starts to wonder if she should continue following the rules of the group that supported and helped her to heal in their own way, or to exact the revenge she craves and risk to loose it all.
In the roles of Julia we have Ashley C Williams (most known for “The Human Centipede”) and Tahyna Tozzi (X-Men Origins; Wolverine) as her tutor/lover Sadie, both actresses do a very good job and give us an interesting look of the evolution of their characters as the film progresses. Other film’s components that I liked were the music and the score which to me felt more than appropriate to the tone of the actions shown on the screen, and there were actually a couple of songs that stuck with me even after the ending credits rolled (More specifically “Steel Bones” by Vuvuvultures) and while the look of the film worked very well for me, my actual problem with the film resides on the pacing.
This film is Matthew A Brown’s debut ( He also wrote the script) and it brings us a story that even when it has some blood and nudity, it’s not looking to push our buttons the easy way with pure shock, overlong rape scenes or even gratuitous violence, nor tries to cause repulsion on the audience, it actually shows a woman being attacked and getting even, but not without consequences. It also brings a possible answer to a frequent situation that we see on revenge films, more specific, when we meet an average small woman get attacked and come back a short time later all buffed up (Rambo trap-savvy even) to get back at her rapists, with little to no effort…But, where did she learn all that? Nobody knows.
The film actually got me very interested with the inclusion of Dr Sgundud’s mysterious group, sadly, the film doesn’t go deeper on that element, or how the group chooses it’s victims (Nor explains how is possible that nobody hears a man’s screams when he is being mutilated on a possible crowed apartment building), leaving us only with Julia’s Journey in overcoming her state as a victim and becoming the predator we see near the end of the film, struggling between her two choices. Unfortunately the film dragged a little bit too much before the third act, and goes back to the average revenge flick route when it had a good chance to break some new ground and become a more memorable movie… ¿Sequel, perhaps?
In defense of the film, it did tried to pick up the pace, it brings a new interesting element to the genre and even manage to put a couple of twists, making it worth a watch or two, and it earned my respect by not going for the easy shock like the remake (and sequel) of “I Spit On Your Grave” did.