For some bizarre reason, the rape/revenge genre has become a sordid staple of horror movies over the last few decades. Kicking off in the seventies with the original video nasties, Last House on the Left and I Spit on your Grave (both of which inexplicably got lackluster noughties remakes), this illicit sub-genre seems to have garnered a disturbing amount of fans, eager to lap up sexual brutality before succumbing to the inevitable cavalcade of castrations that seems to punctuate each and every film of the same theme.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors comes Matthew A. Brown`s latest offering, Julia, billed as a “neo-noir revenge thriller”, about a young woman who is raped, left for dead and then proceeds to take revenge on the group of boys who attacked her. Oh yay…
Ashley C. Williams of Human Centipede fame stars as the unfortunate young woman, playing up to her current calling as “director`s choice for female lead to get physically f*cked up” and, to be fair, she is infinitely less annoying than in every other film in which we have seen her, though to be frank, annoyingness would have made up for the utter apathy that the viewer feels towards her. Naturally we are supposed to feel real sympathy for the titular character`s plight, but unfortunately William`s performance is akin to watching fake blood dry, leaving us cold and empty by the end of the confused and meandering narrative.
In trying to make his film unique and inspired, Brown introduces the idea of a revenge cult for wronged women, training girls to hunt down and castrate their malefactors, but warning them that if they should take matters into their own hands there will be “severe consequences”. An oxymoron if ever there was one. As Julia tracks down and emasculates each of the group in turn, her mentor (a very bored-looking Jack Noseworthy) gets antsy and decides for some reason to have Julia stopped… It`s all very convoluted and, to be honest, the whole affair would have been much more fun if this had actually been a good old fashioned balls-on-the-floor revenge flick.
That`s not to say there are no positives here; the film is very well shot, with some wonderfully striking moments in its camera work, and the rather peculiar J-Pop soundtrack (which would elsewhere seem utterly hipsterish) gives the New York setting a nice San Fransokyo-esque feel. This shit could happen anywhere.
Overall, there`s nothing original here; it`s another case of clichéd horror story trying too hard to be shiny and innovative. If you, for whatever bizarre reason, are a completist of the genre, feel free to check it out. Otherwise, there are plenty of more enjoyable ways to spend ninety minutes. Being castrated probably being one of them.
Dir: Matthew A. Brown
Scr: Matthew A. Brown
Starring: Ashley C. Williams, Tahyna Tozzi, Jack Noseworthy
Prd: Matthew A. Brown, Ty Walker
DOP: Bergsteinn Bjorgulfsson
Music: Frank Hall
Run Time: 95 mins
Julia is out on DVD and Digital from 14 September 2015.