I made up the one in five statistic, but the high school drama genre is a strange one; so many high school movies turn out as bland meshes, like clones of one and other, to the point where they can’t be distinguished. But every now and again a film comes along that uses the setting to it’s fullest and you get things like 10 Things I Hate About You, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid (although I suppose that’s middle school). One way or another though, Do Revenge seems to be the current good high school movie.
The film follows two girls, Drea and Eleanor, who have been wronged by different people from the school and who then agree to get revenge on the person who wronged the other. The movie points out that do revenge isn’t great grammar, but I found it mildly funny and the name is part of what drew me in. ‘Do Revenge? What are we revenging’ I further pondered. It’s a simple premise, but it does literally everything it possibly can with that premise and takes every part of the plot to logical extremes that are both funny, entertaining and sometimes a but touching too. All while never feeling overbearing or bloated.
In fact the major plot twist (this is your official spoiler warning, by the way) might be one of my omg moments of movies in 2022. Not because it’s particularly ground-breaking, but just because how well it’s done; the type of twist you could have seen coming if you had your brain turned on earlier. Early in the movie I thought ‘why would this character do/say this‘ and then it all made logical sense and the movie rewarded me for thinking that way. The twist is that a long time ago, Drea was the person who had wronged Eleanor and the whole movie has been an elaborate plot by Eleanor to get her own revenge on Drea by puppeteering her against her peers.
As well as being well written, part of what makes the twist and whole movie work is also the cast. Everyone involved is just so into it and fun to watch – Camila Mendes plays Drea while Maya Hawke plays Eleanor, and both pull out the twists and turns for their characters. Mendes turns being slower as her character’s narcissism gets way out of check, and Hawke’s more sudden when she drops her naive act to reveal what a dubious snake she can be.
That said I think the first ten or so minutes might be the weakest part of the film. It’s really good but it doesn’t really hook you right away. In fact it struck me more like one of those generic and bland high school movies until the perspective shifted between characters after the title card. I think a lot of the exaggerated goals, stakes and melodrama that are inherent to this genre feed into that, and those run throughout the movie. Like one part of Eleanor’s revenge plan is to get in a car crash with Drea, which is ridiculous, and hospitalises her despite the slow and minimal impact. But maybe it’s not quite as ridiculous as them making up so easily after that. So there is some suspension of disbelief that’s going to have to be at play here – particularly after the plot twist, because this is where the conflict starts really ramping up. Before that it’s all relatively grounded… Exaggerated but grounded, if that makes sense. But then it kind of has to be – actual high school is just kids drawing penises on every surface and cleaners wiping them away. Here things have to be movie-esque.
So, would I recommend Do Revenge? Yeah, I would. It’s funny, witty and surprisingly clever. Perhaps moreso because it’s a Netflix original movie that actually derives a response from the viewer. There’s a lot of moving parts and I do think they could have wrapped things up, not better, but more efficiently. As it is they seemed like they had to end it and so they did. But for what it is, it’s good. One of the better high school drama movies to come out recently, which is certainly worth a watch if that is your thing.