VIOLATION | FILM REVIEW
Dir: Dusty Mancinelli / Madeline Sims-Fewer (18, 108 mins)
A gruelling, complex drama that confronts sexual violence head-on as a woman is driven to revenge following an encounter with her brother-in-law. Madeline Sims-Fewer, who also co-wrote and directed, plays Miriam; her marriage to husband Caleb (Obi Abell) is now sexless and fraying at the edges. So, it turns out, is she.
A weekend away with her younger sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and Greta’s husband Dylan (Jesse Lavercombe) is supposed to be a moment of reconciliation for the sisters, but turns into something far darker following an incident around a campfire. A chamber piece between a quartet, this is still richly cinematic as it provokes and troubles. Fewer is superb as the conflicted sister, whose transformation into avenging angel is dealt with grittily and far removed from the male gaze.
This revenge horror is no I Spit On Your Grave, although the death when it comes is gruesome, horrific and deeply uncomfortable to watch. Directors Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer inject dreamlike imagery throughout, landscapes, insects, wolves and rabbits adding to Violation’s unsettlingly eerie tone. The examination of male/female relationships is also given realistic heft: gaslighting, loss of desire, the inability for men and women to communicate properly and prolonged graphic male nudity, in direct contrast to the norm of this horror subgenre.
Colour pallettes shift with the fractured time line from warm autumnals to cold clarity as the central character’s mindset shifts. Fewer-Sims does not shy away from the ramifications of her actions and the toll it takes on her, her sanity loosening but her love for her sister paramount. Intelligent and richly layered, but requiring some steel to watch, Violation shifts the perception of the female revenge trope with dazzling and disquieting ambition.
Out now via Shudder
words KEIRON SELF