For someone of my age, when we hear the term ‘Rape Revenge’, our mind is cast back to the film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. It still garners debate and is an interesting example of resonating cinema. Made in 1981, the film still holds a series of dubious, note worthy points. Putting aside the history and histrionics of the ‘Video Nasties’ period, it is still the longest censored film on that list with 1 minute and 41 seconds removed from its cells. Then you have the brutality of the film and the continued to and from of if its a feminist picture or a misogynists ode. VIOLATION is a feminist picture without doubt and its far away from the rape revenge saga of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE but its talking points are just as interesting.

With her marriage about to implode after the intimacy has given way to apathy, Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) spends time at her family cabin in her hometown. She needs to re-centre and seek comfort from her younger sister and brother-in-law. One evening, drinks and chat lead to betrayal and rape. Miriam cant believe that she has been violated so and decides to act. She takes a vicious revenge on the person that violated her trust and her body. However the affect on her mental health is deep and as she remembers and forgets what has happened, it leaves her scarred.

The reason I mentioned I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is simple. Both films are meditation on the woman and her act of revenge. They are also both meditations on the catalyst for it. Action and reaction. That is where both become problematic. VIOLATION problem is that it explains the act of rape in back story and blur. While it uses the male body as a device for revenge within the context of this justification. You see where it is going and you expect the results but it still jars. The body battered and bloodied. Then a talk about friends and girls. Then an execution scene, this is done in a visceral way that sometimes is jarring. Cut to the night. Then shift back to the ultimate response. From the image of an erect penis in hope of sexual gratification to the strangulation of a body and the aftermath, it all happens so dispassionately. So erratically. But it fits the narrative. Madeleine Sims-Fewer Miriam starts as a self involved rich girl with issues and ends as a deeply disturbing reflection on the toll of rape. She gives a multi layered performance that leaves you in no doubt that you leave, like she does, scarred.

But this is what the directors wanted. They say so in the intro. I wish they had been able to say more. Much more. The use of techniques in the inter, transitional scenes. The use of framing. The camera. All of these would have been interesting to hear about. You dont sadly. But Shudder deserve credit here. So does Deepa Mehta…she executive produced it!

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