Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Although this is Canadian it has the coolness of the European arthouse, drawing on nature photography at key moments to reinforce the moody sense of primal danger." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Revenge is a dish best served cold in Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer's feature debut and they also run this psychological horror through with a swirl of inescapable melancholy.

The moment Sims-Fewer's Miriam utters the words "don't" and "stop" they hang in the air, full of ambiguity. Her interpretation differs strongly from that of Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe), although we meet them at an earlier point in this fragmented narrative, as they go for a woodland break with their respective partners. Dylan's relationship with Miriam's sister Greta (Anna Maguire) is full of bouncy flirtation, a stark contrast to Miriam's rockier situation with her other half Caleb (Obi Abili). Disorientingly, we move to a point in the future, where Greta and Miriam seem to be on much frostier terms, animosity prickling between them.

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What has happened is not immediately obvious, and ambiguity is the name of the game as the writer/directors take us back and forward in time until the full horror of not just one, but two, situations emerges - one, a trigger for the other. There is, let the fainthearted be warned, blood-letting and brutality but other events are more suggested than seen, which in no way lessens their impact. What exactly happened remains caught in the mists of memory, particularly at first, opening the door for our prejudices to be exposed to the light as we see a much more concrete act of violence play out.

Although this is Canadian it has the coolness of the European arthouse, drawing on nature photography at key moments to reinforce the moody sense of primal danger. This is a space where spiders' webs from the past lie sticky beneath later conversations and actions, waiting to trap an unwary remark and a realm where the suggestion that "Everyone is at least medium shitty" is pushed to the max. Not all hunters carry guns and not all prey is alive to the danger.

Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer let the mood brew, underscored by unsettling glissandi from Andrea Boccadoro, a sound design that lets nature be heard and Adam Crosby's chilly and dispassionate cinematography that finds off-kilter reflections and refracted angles out in the woods. There are extremes here - extremes that may seem to push at the bounds of likelihood - but Sims-Fewer's visceral, physical performance cleaves us to her until the film's icy and desolate conclusion.

The film will be released on Shudder on March 25

Reviewed on: 08 Feb 2021
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A troubled woman on the edge of divorce returns home to her younger sister after years apart. But when her sister and brother-in-law betray her trust, she embarks on a vicious crusade of revenge.
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Director: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer

Writer: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer

Starring: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger

Year: 2020

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: Canada

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