Do Revenge, a teen dark comedy by Alfred Hitchcock, was inspired by his 1951 film Strangers on a Train, which was later inspired by Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. However, Do Revenge focuses on a plot to destroy the social status of two members of the It Crowd.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, co-writer of Thor: Love and Thunder and the creator of Sweet/Vicious, reimagines the genre in a convincing 2022 version. By the end, the movie regains its momentum and pulls together for a satisfying conclusion.
[Ed. note: This review contains setup spoilers for Do Revenge.]
Drea (Camila Mendes), a popular high school girl, is followed until she releases her sex tape, not just because she punched him in the face afterward, because her ex-boyfriend Max is a wealthy family. He's able to turn his friends and the rest of the school against her, claiming a video from his phone was leaked, and she assaults him for no reason.
Eleanor feared she would be murdered when Carissa (Ava Capri) spread a rumor that Eleanor held her down and forcibly kissed her. Eleanor hates seeing Carissa again. The two devise a vengeance strategy, but with a caveat. Carissa will be taken down by Eleanor, while Max will infiltrate Max's friend group for ultimate revenge.
Do Revenge, like other films in the mean-girls high school genre, isn't a derivative or a cliche: It's a natural evolution of this type of film for 2022. Some areas of high school are constants, but youth culture rapidly changes, so teen films especially those that adapt or pay homage to older material risk feeling outdated.
Max is a good-looking straight rich white boy who conceals his real motives in public wakingness. And as a privileged young man, he is basically untouchable. However, Drea and Eleanor have to come up with an even more appealingly complex strategy to depose him, which initially makes them easier to root for.
As their actions escalate, their obsessions develop. Hawke and Mendes do a fantastic job of never giving the audience a clear person to root for. At first, their friendship appears genuine, as they unite against those who wronged them. However, it turns one-sided and destructive. And then it turns into something entirely different.
Heathers and Mean Girls became so popular due to their strong visual palettes, which mirrored the norms of idealized teenagehood in their respective eras. Do Revenge continues to develop the genre, whether its Instagram witch or #glamgirl.
The film is smooth and tight when it comes to the revenge plots, or Eleanor and Drea's increasingly toxic relationship. Drea becomes involved with a friend of Carissas, rebellious artist Russ (Rish Shah), while Eleanor flirts with Maxs sister Gabbi (Talia Ryder). Both relationships seem to exist out of a belief that teen films should require obligatory romances, rather than dragging them out.
Eleanor and Drea are transformed for the better as a result of a series of twists and turns that keep them together, and they play off each other in delightfully unexpected ways. Without spoiling anything, Eleanor and Drea reach a satisfying conclusion that never disappoints or exalts them. Just ignore the cheesy epilogues where they woo their prospective lovers.
Netflix will release Do Revenge on September 16th.