6. Death and the Maiden
Most of the films on this list follow a similar structure. Something bad happens and the protagonist gets his or her violent revenge. Death and the Maiden isn’t that simple. By framing itself as a mystery, the audience is forced to determine whether or not the revenge is justified. This is especially complicated because the rape that resuled in the inevitable revenge scheme is never shown on screen.
Instead, viewers are fed various pieces of evidence from a potentially unreliable source. Although there are certainly acts of violence, they aren’t the main draw. This isn’t like so many comparable movies where people are meant to wait for some sort of blood-soaked climax. In this case, the primary draw is the uncertainty revolving around the original event.
This might be controversial in a post-#MeToo era. Death and the Maiden can be frustrating because of its ambiguity. In a society where we are meant to believe women, it almost feels backwards to watch something like this. At the same time, there are countless ways to interpret such a complex script. Frustrations aside, there are strong messages presented.
7. The Loved Ones
In most of the movies listed, the audience is intended to root for the vengeful character. That’s because the character is taking revenge for something serious. This could be anything from rape to murder of a loved one. When it comes to The Loved Ones, your feelings may be a little more enigmatic. This time around, the revenge simply comes from a botched invitation to prom.
In The Loved Ones, we’re introduced to Lola Stone, a quirky high school student looking to form a relationship with a troubled popular kid named Brent. Brent has recently faced plenty of trauma, but when he turns down Lola’s prom proposal, things only get worse. Lola doesn’t just leave a nasty note in his locker; she ties the pretty-boy to a chair and practices lobotomy, among other things.
The triviality of the revenge scheme results in pitch black humor that ultimately strengthens the final product. It’s more than just silly a premise; it’s an excellent assortment of exploitative violence and cheeky dialogue that is sure to keep the average viewer entertained. If the opening half-hour doesn’t grip you, wait it out. You’ll surely enjoy your time with Lola.
8. Revenge (2017)
Not to be confused with Tony Scott’s 1990 film of the same name, 2017’s Revenge is far leaner and meaner. Though it doesn’t break new ground, it still offers stylish thrills and thought-provoking feminist themes. The graphic violence may be a barrier for certain viewers, but it’s a barrier that everyone should try to overcome.
The plot should be familiar to anyone who has seen a rape and revenge thriller. After a young woman is assaulted by a group of despicable men, she takes justice into her own hands. The familiarity of the premise might be off-putting to prospective viewers, but it would be foolish to write this off as a case of been-there-done-that.
Revenge is easily able to stand out because of its undeniable polish. Coralie Fargeat isn’t a household name by any means. In fact, this was her directorial debut, but you wouldn’t know it. She managed to craft a gorgeous, uncompromising cinematic experience with just enough bite.
9. Bad Day for the Cut
In Bad Day for the Cut, a quiet farmer comes home to find his mother has been murdered. Following this discovery, he vows to get revenge on the person who did it. Though the protagonist seems relatively harmless at first, the audience quickly learns that he is not your average farmer.
If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because it is. The hidden badass trope has been used for years, and it was recently popularized by John Wick. That rise in popularity unfortunately means that anything remotely resembling a copycat might not be particularly popular among exhausted moviegoers who have become numb to seeing the same movie with a different coat of paint. Luckily, Bad Day for the Cut has just enough tricks up its sleeve.
While the film starts off soft and contemplative, it eventually ramps things up to Guy Ritchie levels of European violence. This juxtaposition of tones allows Bad Day for the Cut to stand out in spite of its familiarity. Unlike John Wick, the protagonist’s descent into madness is more gradual. It’s not a snap; it’s more of a slow buildup. This will of course lead the average viewer to wonder what he will do next. It keeps us guessing, and it keeps us watching.
With the rise of technological distractions in society, we often take films like this for granted. You’re not going to want to check Twitter during Bad Day for the Cut because the cast and crew make an active effort to hold your attention. The sheer amount of entertainment packed into one little revenge flick outweighs any problems that could result from a generic premise. Basically, there’s far more than meets the eye.
10. American Mary
Perhaps it’s unfair to call American Mary a revenge movie since the body horror elements tend to overshadow everything else, but there’s clearly a revenge movie buried beneath the surgery-inspired terror. Frankly, this smorgasbord of different subgenres could be included in a number of lists, but let’s start by talking about it as a revenge horror flick above all else.
For the uninitiated, American Mary revolves around a financially-troubled woman who decides to earn her money by performing unconventional body modification surgeries. Generally speaking, body modifications are safe regardless of any social taboos. On the other hand, they might not be quite as safe when you piss off your surgeon. After all, the surgeon is the one with all the power.
That little caveat probably hints at where the revenge aspects come from in American Mary. Not-so-innocent Mary Mason has access to all sorts of tools, and this makes for one hell of a rollercoaster ride. It might not be a sophisticated roller coaster ride, but it’s a blast all the way until the credits roll. Just make sure you can handle a little blood and gore before you hit the play button.