Do Revenge, a teen dark comedy starring Alfred Hitchcock, was inspired by his 1951 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was later inspired by Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. However, the plot in Do Revenge is more focused on the slaying of two members of the It Crowd.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, co-writer of Thor: Love and Thunder and the inventor of Sweet/Vicious, combines her dark comedy with a dark comedies on the ruthless teenage girls for a slick 2022 release. 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), a popular high school student, until her reputation deteriorates not only because her ex-boyfriend Max released her sex tape, but also because she punched him in the face afterward. He has more social capital than her, and is able to use 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 was a social pariah years ago when Carissa (Ava Capri) spread a rumor that Eleanor held her down and forcibly kissed her. After settling in the same school as Carissa, Eleanor hates seeing her again. They devise a strategy for vengeance, with an important caveat: Drea will depose Carissa, while Eleanor will infiltrate Maxs friend group for ultimate revenge.
Do Revenge, like other films in the mean-girls high school genre, emphasizes complex social plots and vicious popular cliques. However, youth culture changes rapidly, and teen films especially those that adapt or pay homage to older material may feel outdated.
Max is a good-looking straight rich white boy who conceals his real motives with performative public wakingness. But that just means Drea and Eleanor have to come up with an even more enjoyable and difficult strategy to take him down, which initially makes them easier to root for.
Hawke and Mendes do a fantastic job of never giving the audience a clear person to root for. At first, their friendship seems genuine, as they unite against those who wronged them. But then, it turns one-sided and toxic. And then it evolves into something completely different.
Heathers and Mean Girls were created with soft, influencer-worthy pastels as part of their strong visual palettes, which complemented the idealized teenage life in their respective eras. Do Revenge continues this trend, looking for filmmakers who are familiar with perfectly calibrated aesthetics that fit neatly under social media hashtags.
The revenge plots, or Eleanor and Drea's increasingly tense relationship, are sharp and tight. But midway through, a few romantic B-plots start taking center stage. Drea becomes involved with a friend of Carissas, rebellious artist Russ (Rish Shah), while Eleanor flirts with Maxs sister Gabbi (Talia Ryder) in a sense that teen films need obligatory romances, rather than slowing it down.
At some point, Eleanor and Drea's college plans become more favorable, and the film changes dramatically for the better. But Robinson and Ballard manage to avoid these pitfalls, demonstrating that they appreciate what the audience for these sorts of films wants: the joy of watching vicious teenage girls go to great lengths to obtain what they deserve. Just ignore the cheesy introductions where they woo their prospective lovers.
Netflix will release Do Revenge on September 16th.