6. The Woman (USA, 2011)
The Woman is a film about a family who adopts a feral woman from the woods and they apparently attempt to civilize her. From the get-go, the males in the family are violent and abusive and the females are expected to be submissive and servile. The family’s attempts to “civilize” the feral woman are revealed to be sadistic and barbaric.
Even though at first glance the movie is just about a woman being tortured and literally being treated like an animal, it actually symbolizes a feminist critique of society and gender roles. The characters in the film are exaggerated versions of gender stereotypes that highlight the fact that this woman who has never been tainted by social conventions is not willing to be oppressed by society and molded into just another gender caricature as the rest of them.
So the woman’s revenge on her captors in this film not only is brutal and gory, but it’s also ideological and metaphorical. The film had a very positive critical reception, but as most horror flicks nowadays, it had a limited distribution in theaters and most of its exposure comes from festivals, physical and digital sales, and other online streaming services.
7. The Loved Ones (Australia, 2009)
The Loved Ones is a horror film about a deranged girl who kidnaps a guy because he politely rejected her invitation to a high school dance. The girl and her equally crazy father play out a sick high school prom fantasy while savagely torturing their hostage. So it’s evidently a revenge story right out of the gate, a very shallow and insane one.
At first, the guy tries to escape. But as things progress and we learn more about the girl and her father, the guy they kidnapped tries to both escape his captivity and get his own revenge on this sadistic family. It becomes a survival/counter-revenge film; People claiming vengeance on the people who were originally doing so themselves. The film was very well-received, but it had a very limited distribution outside of Australia, being that it was director Sean Byrne’s first feature.
8. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de naze warui) (Japan, 2013)
Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is a Japanese film about 2 yakuza gangs at war that’s been commonly compared to Kill Bill, so there’s definitely a lot of vengeance going on. While the main revenge plot in the movie is the on-going war between two yakuza clans, the film’s focus is on an amateur film crew that has spent most of their youth trying to get a film made to no real results.
All the characters come together when the film crew is hired to film a bloody yakuza battle in real-time as if they were shooting a scripted movie. So in a way, the film crew is also claiming revenge for all those years they tried to get a picture made and the circumstances never allowed them.
It’s a crazy film directed by Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Suicide Club) that’s equal parts Kill Bill, Snatch, cartoonish anime and yakuza movie. Sion Sono’s films are generally known on festival circuits and by people who enjoy cult cinema, but they certainly have all the necessary elements to be enjoyed by a larger audience, even if those elements wouldn’t usually be found combined within the same movie.
9. Body (Body … Sob 19) (Thailand, 2007)
After the international success of films like The Ring, there was a boom in Asian films about vengeful spirits. Body is not all that different from those movies, except this movie really tries to mess with the viewers as much as the events in the film seem to be messing with the minds of the characters.
The film is about a student who keeps on having recurring nightmares and visions about a woman’s murder. There’s a plot twist at every turn of the movie, and whether anything’s actually happening at any given time is not made clear until the end. However, it’s very clear that the woman from the student’s visions and nightmares is looking to avenge her own death.
Being that Body came out a few years after the popularity of this type of movies had died down, it’s not often mentioned. And it’s a shame, because even if the subject isn’t the most original, the film is very effective in its scares and frightening premise. It has some truly haunting elements that will stick with the viewer for quite some time after the movie is over, especially a recurring love song that gets creepier every time it’s played.
10. Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) (Sweden, 2008)
This is definitely the most famous film on this list; it even has a completely unnecessary American remake directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). However, it’s still a Swedish film so that means mainstream international audiences might not be aware of it. Underneath its dark and twisted horror themes, it’s a very sweet film about two kids finding love and support in each other. One of those kids turns out to be a vampire and the other one is just a bullied kid who feels lonely.
A character seeks revenge on the vampire who’s been feeding on people in the small town where the movie is set, but the true payoff on vengeance takes place right at the end in one of the most brutal and effective horror scenes in recent years. Adapting the Chekhov’s gun dramatic principle to Let the Right One In, if in the first act you show a kid being constantly and cruelly bullied, you better have a satisfying resolution by the end; and satisfying it is.
Author Bio: Rafa Carrillo has been battling his addiction to movies by talking about them with everyone he knows; now he’s writing about them too. He’s from Mexico, he plays guitar and sings in a band, and he’s been known to occasionally enjoy films that feature long walks on the beach (preferably starring Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers).