Browsing Tag

rape revenge

man holds knife to woman's throat
Posted on March 9, 2021

Beavers Bite Back: Rape-Revenge, “Good for Her,” and Freaky’s Final Girl

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Freaky (2020), directed by Christopher Landon, is a slasher movie with a body-swap twist: a teenage girl, Millie (Kathryn Newton), and a serial killer, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) – through the dubious magic of an ancient Aztec curse – switch bodies and must deal with the unintended consequences. But the movie’s title is more than a nod to Freaky Friday; it’s also an indication of the way it mixes up – or gets freaky with – its genre classification.

Freaky establishes its slasher credentials early on, directly referencing earlier slashers like Halloween (1978) and Scream (1996) during its opening sequence of murders, and it’s obviously familiar with body-swap conventions as well (the cursed Aztec object, for instance). As a body-swap slasher, an unusual combination, some of its elements may not fit comfortably. Dawn Keetley writes, for instance, that “it felt pretty off-putting to be asked to identify with the Butcher’s body rather than Millie’s. One of my persistent pleasures in the slasher film is precisely in the Final Girl’s body. In this film, I’m asked to transfer that identification to Vince Vaughn.” The body-swap element might, then, undermine some of the effects of the slasher. And Freaky is certainly much bloodier than a typical body-swap movie, although it does retain the genre’s emphasis on gaining new perspective and understanding of others. Read more

Posted on July 4, 2019

Natalia Leite’s M.F.A. and Survival, Eastwood Style

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In Natalia Leite’s 2017 M.F.A., a timid third-year Fine Arts student Noelle (Francesca Eastwood) voices the riposte, “I guess that depends on what law you break” to a women’s student group as its leader condescends to her frustration at Southern California’s exclusive Balboa (actually Chapman University) campus’s complicit rape tolerance policy by warning her that, “If you break the law, there will be consequences.”

This administration-friendly group endorses Rohypnol-sensitive nail polish and keeps busy raising funds to support a woman in Rio de Janeiro who was gang-raped by thirty-three men (the number of assailants and the distant crime site inspires them to name their initiative, ‘Heroes for Rio’): here, Noelle’s protest situates the logic of a truly feminist rape-revenge horror film: patriarchal systems of law force rape victims to take the law into our own hands in order to survive. Read more

Posted on May 24, 2018

I Spit on Your Grave: The Original Rape-Revenge Film

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With the new French exploitation film Revenge gaining a heap of media attention, the majority of it referencing it as an up-dated I Spit On Your Grave, it is pertinent to examine why the original film – and the rape-revenge genre in general  – refuses to be buried, despite its being condemned as sexist, misogynistic and demeaning to women.

There is no denying that the original I Spit On Your Grave (1978)—released 40 years ago this year—is one of the most controversial films ever made. With its unflinching subject matter (the brutal gang-rape of a beautiful career woman and her subsequent revenge), its battles with censors, critics, feminists and politicians have ensured that it remains a film that divides opinion and inflames passions. While its reputation would have been cemented by its unique position in the 1970s/80s exploitation era and the ‘video nasties’ scandal, it has also become mythologised by the countless rape-revenge films that have followed.

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Posted on May 22, 2018

Revenge and the Power of the Gaze

Guest Post

In the era of the Women’s March and the #MeToo Movement, Revenge (2017), directed and written by Coralie Fargeat, is a must-see, a film critical of the male gaze, hyper-masculinity, and rape culture.  It reverses the gaze and empowers its female protagonist, Jen (Matilida Anna Ingrid Lutz), who seeks retaliation against her rapist and his wealthy enablers.

The plot of the film is rather simple. Jen is the mistress of 1 percenter Richard (Kevin Janssens), who takes her to an isolated location via helicopter. He invites his rich buddies along, Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède) and Stan (Vincent Colombe). Stan rapes Jen when Richard is not around, assuming that she wanted it because she danced with him once.

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