The new Netflix comedy, Do Revenge, wryly explores toxic high school rivalries.
Starring: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, and Rish Shah
Directed by: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Tagline: I’ll do yours if you do mine.
ennifer Kaytin Robinson swaps psychopaths for teens and murder for high school payback in Do Revenge, a darkly funny teen drama inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (which was itself an adaptation of the 1950 Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name) that takes a sly look at the caustic world of ruthless young adults who could easily give your average psychopath a run for their money!
At the centre of this twisty tale are self-absorbed Drea (Camila Mendes) and mousy Eleanor (Maya Hawke), two high school students whose lives intersect while they are at the same tennis camp over summer. Both are still reeling from slights that have ruined their respective social lives and turned them into pariahs. Drea’s intimate video tape has been leaked by her boyfriend, the popular Max (Austin Abrams), while Eleanor has been outed by fellow-student Carissa (Ava Capri) and labelled a predator.
When they subsequently end up attending the same high school, the two form a pact to go after each other’s bullies. Drea enthusiastically embraces the task of destroying Carissa’s reputation, while Eleanor attempts to integrate with the popular clique in order to get close to and subsequently expose Max.
A clever twist reframes the story, as the tale dives deeper into the cruel, cutthroat high school world. Do Revenge takes its cues from teen movie past – Mean Girls and Cruel Intentions are clear influences – to explore toxic, complex young adult relationships and interactions. A cool soundtrack and colourful aesthetics – the characters’ thorny personalities are veiled under their stylish, manicured exteriors – also make things more fun. And while there may be next to nothing to like about the characters that populate this movie, the drama still keeps you riveted to their spiteful journeys.
It also helps that Maya Hawke is terrific. While the entire cast – Hawke included – is distractingly old and in no way convincing as teenagers (and some, like Abrams, are not very well cast), the leads share enough chemistry to keep the proceedings buoyant while delivering the dark humour with a wink and a smirk.
Its “awful people doing awful things” plot may not vibe with everyone, but fans of ‘90s high school flicks are likely to enjoy this modern update to catty teen classics.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection