Netflix Halloween Hangover : “Bound To Vengeance”

Posted: November 16, 2015 in movies
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I guess it’s fair to say that this review and the next are coming to you as an act of “digital housekeeping,” if you will, in that I meant to include them as part of my “Netflix Halloween 2015” round-up, but sadly ran out of time. So, in the spirit of “better late than never,” I present to you a (very) short addendum to last month’s over-arching theme that we’ll call “Netflix Halloween Hangover” simply because, hey, it’s a Sunday evening and I can’t really think of any snappier title than that. My apologies.

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First under the microscope we have 2015’s Bound For Vengeance, which was also released in various overseas territories under the decidedly uninspired (if understandable) title of Reversal, a flick that bills itself as turning the tables on classic “rape/revenge” horror “thrillers” but that really does nothing of the sort because, well — when you consider that films like I Spit On Your Grave are all about turning the tables on one’s captors/assailants, the only way you can really do a reversal (sorry) on that would be to have the bad guy (or guys) win. And nobody wants that.

What director Jose Manuel Cravioto does here is more a “remix” of the formula than an outright re-thinking, then,  in that he starts things off with his protagonist, Eve (played by Russian actress and Jennifer Lawrence look-alike Tina Ivlev) smashing a brick over the head of her sicko basement-jailer, Phil (Richard Tyson), and making a break for it. She could — and probably should — go to the cops, but it turns out that the house she was being held captive in is in he middle of fucking nowhere, her cell phone is dead (she’s apparently been cooped up for several months), and besides — on her hurried way out the door she discovers evidence that she wasn’t the only one being imprisoned as a sex slave, and she’d like to bust the other girls out, as well.

Her first couple of rescue attempts go pretty badly when the ladies in question prove to be extremely far-gone mentally, and screenwriters Rock Shaink Jr. and Keith Kjornes come up with some seriously brutal endings for this pair of hapless souls when their plot utility ends, but the third time proves to be the charm, and while “contestant #3” makes tracks for the nearest cop shop, Eve heads back to Phil’s spread one more time in order to dole out some final justice. Or so she thinks, at any rate —

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I’m generally a fan of the “rape/revenge” subgenre,  but if you’ve been reading this site for any length of time odds are that you knew that already, or at the very least could have surmised as much, and while I  appreciate the fact that Cravioto was going for something a bit different, at least stylistically, here by omitting the atrocities and drawing out/complicating the payback, the simple fact is that without bearing witness to the evil of the antagonist in at least semi-explicit, if not outright excruciating, detail, his inevitable comeuppance loses a lot of the fist-pump-in-the-air sense of jubilation that should be part and parcel of any story like this. We’re glad he’s gonna get his, sure — but only glad. And I’d personally rather be straight-up overjoyed, myself.

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A fairly major criticism, no doubt about it, but not one that entirely negates the  things that Bound To Vengeance actually does have going for it, like a stellar lead performance from Ivlev and an interesting visual conceit, beginning with the brick in the opening scene, that sees events related from the “point of view,” if you will, of various inanimate objects that Eve makes use of throughout the film. Truth be told, though, even that begins to grate after awhile — but not nearly as much as the constant feeling that this is a film that could be so much better than what it is. Some cinematic formulas are “tried and true” for good reason, and not only do they in no way, shape, or form need revisionist-style tinkering for its own sake, their impact is diminished greatly by its most unwelcome presence.

Comments
  1. trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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