Taking Revenge : Coralie Fargeat flips a whole genre and makes a feminist horror
Not since John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi has a heroine (not even Kill Bill’s Bride) slopped about in so much blood. But on the set of Revenge, Coralie Fargeat’s excellent debut film, she confesses that each day that they were worried they were going to run out of the fake stuff – and more had to be shipped in from Paris so the lead characters could could continue slipping in it.
This is the difference about Revenge: it’s about a naïve young woman, Jen, played by Matilda Lutz, who is raped and worse by three unpleasant men in the desert. She simply takes revenge. Although there’s a definite touch of Barbarella and 10,000 Years BC about Lutz in her revengers bikini, the woman in this horror is the huntress. It’s unflinchingly gory, sometimes very funny, and there’s no screaming. Certainly not from Jen.
Coralie Fargeat had made a short film in 2014, Reality +, and immediately set about her next idea.
“I first had idea after my first short and I really wanted to make a genre film and go the full way into very visual and surprising staging, focusing on a very simple idea directed in an unique way,” she explains.
“The first idea was about the character I wanted to be the centre of the movie a girl a total Lolita who is happy to be seductive, at ease with her body and wants to be noticed and so those men will think they can treat her in a certain way and it’s easy for them to get rid of her as if no one was going to care.
“She instead transforms into a very strong super heroine who is going to seek the strength within herself and is reborn in a new character. So I built the whole universe around that and I knew the girl would carry the whole universe on her shoulders.”
Matilda Lutz, who was in 2017’s horror Rings as well as the Medici TV series, was interested in playing a character judged immediately on the way she looked.
“ I had a judgement of that type of a woman too, “she confesses, “ so it was so much fun to just let it go and I tried to dig into what was making her to be that way, to be so seductive and sensual at the start. She stayed with me, and affected me, Matilda, and there was a change in me as I was shooting.
“I was very uncomfortable shooting in a bikini and the crew were mostly male, and I felt watched – and then I started not caring anymore. I felt more confident in my own skin I felt there was a change in the way people looked at me.
“I hadn’t met Coralie before, but when we had a meeting in LA we both felt we had known each other for a long time, we talked for hours. And then at 6am the next day I did an audition for her, crawling on the bathroom floor in her hotel room as she had to fly back to Paris the next day.”
“I was inspired by revenge movies with strong heroic characters – Kill Bill or Mad Max or Rambo where a character is reborn after something unfair, and what I like is that those movies are creating a very phantasmagoric universe – I wanted to create something out of reality which would add something new to the genre,” says Coralie of her vision.
Revenge is full of vibrant, acid-pop colurs – yellow desert, pink bikinis and earring, blue swimming pool and of course, a lot of red blood, which is the only conventional touch of horror. And Coralie explains why, despite Jen’s ordeal, she barely screams.
“I didn’t want a female character screaming the whole time and she doesn’t. She finds a way to overcome and pain and her wounds and to become very strong.”
Traditionally this genre finds a wider audience with men, but Coralie adds it’s found much appreciation with women.
‘There’s a big female audience,” she confirms. “ A lot of women like it even if they’re not usually fans of the genre because I think the movie is really entertaining. The blood adds something adburd and metaphysical, and women really seem to love the character,”
In the end, Revenge slyly flips the objecification of women and its most gruesome results, and turns it on its head.
Revenge is out in the UK on May 11, 2018