Do Revenge, a teen dark comedy based on Alfred Hitchcock's 1951 thriller Strangers on a Train, was inspired by Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. However, it instead focuses on a plot to sabotage two members of the It Crowd's social status.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (co-writer of Thor: Love and Thunder and the creator of Sweet/Vicious) brings the genre back to life with a sharp 2022 update. At the end, the film regains its momentum and pulls together for a satisfying conclusion.
[Ed. note: This review contains setup spoilers for Do Revenge.]
Do Revenge follows Drea (Camila Mendes), who was once the most popular girl in school, until her reputation dwindles, not just because her ex-boyfriend Max released her sex tape, but also because she punched him in the face afterwards. He is able to turn his friends and the rest of the school against her, claiming a video from his phone was leaked and that she assaulted him for no reason.
Eleanor became a social prank after Carissa (Ava Capri) posted a rumor that Eleanor held her down and forcibly kissed her. After an emotional moment in the bathroom, Eleanor and Drea begin a plan for vengeance, but with a caveat: Drea will depose Carissa, while Eleanor will infiltrate Max's friend group for ultimate revenge.
Do Revenge, like other movies in the mean-girls high school subgenre, focuses on convoluted social plots and vicious popular cliques. As time passes, youth culture changes, so teen movies especially those that adapt or pay homage to older material risk feeling outdated.
Max is a nice-looking straight rich white boy who conceals his real motives in 2022, and as a privileged young man, he is virtually untouchable. However, Drea and Eleanor must come up with an even more enjoyablely complex strategy to take him down, which initially makes them easier to root for.
As their actions escalate, their obsessions become more apparent. Hawke and Mendes do a fantastic job of never giving the audience a clear person to root for. At first, their friendship appears inspired, as they unite against those who wronged them. But then it turns one-sided and toxic. And then it transforms into something entirely different.
Heathers and Mean Girls became popular because of their strong visual palettes, which floated with idealized teenagehood in their respective eras. Do Revenge is continuing this trend, focusing on those who are familiar with perfectly calibrated aesthetics that pair well with Instagram hashtags.
When it comes to the revenge plots, it's smooth and tight. At the start, a few romantic B-plots take center stage. Eleanor flirts with Max's sister Gabbi (Talia Ryder), while Drea gets involved with a friend of Carissas and rebellious artist Russ (Rish Shah) and Eleanor gets involved with Max's friend Carissas.
The film then changes from Eleanor to Drea in a spectacular fashion. A series of twists and turns brings them back together in enticing ways. The thrill of watching vicious teenage girls fight back in painful ways
Netflix will release Do Revenge on September 16th.