Alfred Hitchcock’s affect is obvious in Netflix’s teen darkish comedy Do Revenge. It was impressed by his 1951 thriller Strangers on a Practice, which was in flip impressed by a novel by The Proficient Mr. Ripley author Patricia Highsmith. However as a substitute of specializing in a twisty homicide scheme, Do Revenge facilities on a plot to kill off the social standing of two members of the It Crowd.
The movie neatly matches into the canon of darkish comedies concerning the ruthlessness of teenage women — suppose Heathers or Imply Ladies. Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (co-writer of Thor: Love and Thunder, creator of Candy/Vicious) weaves a pointy 2022 replace of the style. A number of romantic subplots sluggish the film’s midpoint down, however by the top, the film regains its momentum and pulls collectively for a satisfying ending.
[Ed. note: This review contains setup spoilers for Do Revenge.]
Do Revenge follows Drea (Camila Mendes), previously the most well-liked lady in school, till her status tanks — not simply because her ex-boyfriend Max launched her intercourse tape, but in addition as a result of she punched him within the face afterward. Drea attends her unique Miami prep faculty on a scholarship, whereas her ex (Austin Abrams) comes from a rich household. He has extra social capital than her, so he’s capable of flip his mates and the remainder of the varsity towards her, claiming a video from his telephone acquired leaked and that she assaulted him for no cause. Drea simply needs to grit her enamel and get by way of senior yr, however that modifications when she meets switch scholar Eleanor (Maya Hawke).
Years in the past, Eleanor grew to become a social pariah when her crush Carissa (Ava Capri) unfold a rumor that Eleanor held her down and forcibly kissed her. After touchdown on the similar faculty as Carissa, Eleanor dreads seeing her once more. After an emotional second within the lavatory, Eleanor and Drea bond over the individuals who’ve wronged them, and hatch a plan for revenge — however with an essential caveat. The 2 determine to swap vengeance targets: Drea will take down Carissa, whereas Eleanor will infiltrate Max’s pal group for final revenge.
Like different films within the mean-girls highschool subgenre, Do Revenge focuses on convoluted social plots and harsh widespread cliques. But it surely isn’t spinoff or a cliche: As an alternative, it’s a pure evolution of such a film for 2022. Some components of highschool are constants, however youth tradition quickly evolves, so teen films — particularly ones adapting or paying homage to older materials — threat feeling outdated. Do Revenge dodges that curse due to the way in which Robinson and co-writer Celeste Ballard well replace sure plot factors.
For one factor, Max is a villain for 2022 — a handsome straight wealthy white boy who makes use of performative public wokeness to cover his actual motives. And as a privileged younger man, Max is principally untouchable. However that simply means Drea and Eleanor should provide you with an much more enjoyably advanced plan to take him down — and initially, it makes them simpler to root for.
However as their actions escalate, their obsessions develop. Hawke and Mendes do a improbable job of by no means giving the viewers a transparent individual to root for. At first, their friendship appears impressed, as they unite towards those that wronged them. However then it turns one-sided and poisonous. After which it mutates into one thing else completely.
It’s a hell of a experience, all executed with mushy, influencer-worthy pastels. A part of the rationale films like Heathers and Imply Ladies grew to become so iconic was due to their robust visible palettes, which performed with the conventions of idealized teenagehood of their respective eras. Do Revenge continues the development, updating the movie’s search for these intimately acquainted with completely calibrated aesthetics that match neatly beneath social media hashtags, whether or not it’s “Instagram witch” or #glamgirl.
When the film focuses on the revenge plots, or Eleanor and Drea’s more and more poisonous relationship, it’s sharp and tight. However halfway by way of, a couple of romantic B-plots begin taking middle stage. Drea will get concerned with a pal of Carissa’s, rebellious artist Russ (Rish Shah), whereas Eleanor flirts with Max’s sister Gabbi (Talia Ryder). Whereas a few of these scenes are candy, neither of those relationships do a lot to make Eleanor or Drea both extra sympathetic or extra despicable. They appear to exist out of a way that teen films want compulsory romances, and nothing extra. They find yourself dragging the film out and slowing it down.
On the finish, although, the film shifts again to Eleanor and Drea — and for the higher. A collection of twists and turns attracts them again collectively, they usually play off one another in deliciously unnerving methods. At some factors, the film looks like it’s going to show right into a moralizing assertion concerning the risks of revenge, particularly when Drea’s school plans develop into jeopardized. However Robinson and Ballard well keep away from these pitfalls, proving they perceive what the viewers for these kinds of flicks actually needs: the vicarious thrill of watching vicious teenage women go to nice lengths to get what they need, whereas navigating the difficult relationships they kind with each other. With out spoiling an excessive amount of, Eleanor and Drea get each what they want, and what they deserve. It’s a satisfying conclusion that doesn’t punish them or extol them. Simply ignore the tacky epilogues the place they woo their potential love pursuits.
Do Revenge debuts on Netflix on Sept. 16.