Release: June 21, 2020
Director: Melanie Aitkenhead
Writer: Timothy Durham
Starring: Serinda Swan as Maggie, Diego Boneta as Brian, Pollyanna McIntosh as Trigga, Vanessa Dubasso as Mary, and Jake Lockett as Keegan
Running Time: 73 minutes
Several years after being a victim of sexual assault, Maggie is a member of a militantly anti-male biker gang. At a raucous party, Maggie’s cousin Mary is drugged, raped, and then dumped on the college grounds. When Mary awakens with a fractured memory of the incident, she goes to Maggie’s crew looking for revenge. The ladies go to a bar to observe their quarry. Whilst there, Maggie meets nice, clean cut normie Brian. As the girls leave with the three rapists in tow, Maggie gives Brian her phone number and the two establish an impossibly paced romantic relationship. Brian surreptitiously follows the ladies to their destination and clandestinely observes as they torture the three rapists. The three men are then dumped, without pants, on the college grounds with the words “suck my pussy” branded deep into the flesh of their posteriors. Later, in the locker room, Brian overhears the three men plotting revenge. He attempts to contact Maggie in effort to warn her, but is unsuccessful. The two later meet for a date, during which he finally informs her of the impending attack. The three men attack the warehouse where the ladies congregate; an attack that leaves Mary dead. A final confrontation between the two factions happens at a local construction site. Brian, ever the intelligent and sober fellow he is, decides to sneak in to help an injured Maggie to safety, but is stabbed through the back and killed by the gang leader.
Revenge Ride is a bad film. It attempts to be some sort of timely message horror film. This particular kind of movie has been done, arguably to death, a lot over the last several years. It saw it’s greatest success in 2017’s Get Out; a film that, in addition to showing that Allison Williams does have some measure of talent beyond pretending that Lena Dunham is funny, provided a darkly humorous satire of the upper class white political left’s fetish of black skin. Unfortunately, Revenge Ride is nowhere near as well done as Get Out. Rather it falls on the opposite end of the message horror genre, along side 2018’s botched pro-“e-thot” flick Cam. With its gaggle of shrill, shrieking harpies spouting anti-male soliloquies-cum-screeds, it clearly wants to play to the gibbering social media “rad fem” set. However, the film botches this pandering in a big way. The character arc of Brian effectively turns Revenge Ride into an argument against woke, performative “allyship.”
The character of Brian represents the insufferable, pandering “ally.” You know him. He’s the guy that changes his Facebook and Twitter avatars for every woke social media holiday. He’s the guy that lies prostrate and apologizes for past indiscretions and crimes that he didn’t commit. The middle-class white male who is so distraught and wracked with guilt over his status in the world that he will glom onto any ridiculous left wing movement, no matter how nakedly obvious the adherents of said movement are in their desire to destroy everyone like him, and defend said movement right up to the point that they are putting his head in the guillotine, or mass emailing his boss about that one time ten years ago that he made an off colour joke. He’s the male feminist, the trust fund syndicalist, the bourgeois Bernie bro. Indeed, with what is going on in the United States right now, with all of the performative signaling on social media and in real life over which rich white person can “ally” the hardest, Brian’s frankly tragicomic character arc is almost enough to make me recommend this film.
The acting here vacillates wildly from stiff and wooden to outright maudlin, and this applies to the entire cast. There is not a single actor or actress in this flick that is immune from this criticism, every one of them is uniformly bad. This would be forgivable if Revenge Ride‘s kill count weren’t so low and situated entirely in the last 20 minutes or so of the film. This means you spend a preponderance of the flick’s mercifully short running time with actors who deliver their lines with all the believability of a poorly rehearsed Saturday Night Live sketch. Visually, and I know I say this all too often, the flick is ugly. Hazy, blurry, just outright hideous. Making your movie artificially look like it was shot through an early morning fog is not high brow. It does not convey some type of artistic legitimacy on your film. The washed out colours are not a substitute for effective aesthetic design. It just makes your movie a chore to look at. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight flicks and the success of Denis Villeneuve have to be two of the worst things to happen to Cinema in the last two decades. The wake of both has caused film, a visual medium, to become weighted down with dreary, tired, miserable aesthetics. Again, this is a visual medium, why do you want your film to be a chore to look at? You went to the trouble to cast many beautiful women as the main core of the film, you obviously want people to look, but then you hang a foggy haze over everything.
Revenge Ride is a thoroughly modern movie that suffers from all of the same problems that so many of its contemporaries do. A director who can’t coax decent performances out of his cast, the foggy, hard to look at aesthetic, half-assed commitment to a trite message, etc. As a product, it is a mess. That being said, should you watch Revenge Ride? Yes, you should. There is nothing quite like seeing a piece work that was obviously supposed to be tailor made for the grievance crowd botch its pandering so spectacularly. The characters are insufferable, the performances are stilted, but as someone who has watched the hilarity of modern “woke” culture, especially as of late where it is turning in on itself, this flick definitely brought a smile to my face.