By Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) joins her husband, sister and brother-in-law Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) on a relaxing trip to a lakeside cabin. As Miriam feels more isolated among the group, she seeks comfort in her friendship with Dylan. However, dynamics change when Miriam experiences an act of transgressive sexual assault. After carefully planning, Miriam embarks on a crusade to get revenge on her vicious assaulter.
Directing and Screenwriting Duo Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli create an enthralling Revenge Thriller, giving Canada representation at Sundance. Prior filmmakers have tackled the rape-revenge genre, but none have done it like this. Their story is rooted in documenting how acts of sexual violence happen more often from those we trust. That is part of the violation they focus on, which is a unique take on this genre.
Violation is a revenge tale with an intelligent lead. Miriam thoroughly plans exactly what she’s going to do and how she’ll get away with it. This creates a fortifying character who doesn’t solely act out of emotion, but also wit. Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli also root their brutal film in authenticity. Because Miriam is physically smaller than her attacker, each scene is seeping in suspense and fear that her plan may turn eerie. And their build-up leads to a pivotal scene where Miriam loses the upper-hand. This is something that would happen to people with their physical differences. Thus, creating a realistic take on the dynamic within this Thriller.
Their realistic gaze coincides with their ability to throw us into the physical and emotional challenges Miriam faces. We are thrust into her thirst for revenge by the filmmaking-duo’s camera work, which causes us to become disoriented. This places us in Miriam’s state-of-mind throughout. And this is where Violation stands-out: it has something to say about the destructive power that comes along with the most righteous of rages. They challenge the audience to question if Miriam’s gruesome acts of revenge are giving her the catharsis she’s searching for.
Sims-Fewer does triple duty by taking on the main role. She gives a fully committed performance as Miriam and displays all of her characters complexities. At times Miriam could be considered going too far in her desire for revenge. But Sims-Fewer steadies Miriam in her quest and constantly portrays dual emotions. She’s both fragile and strong, vengeful and remorseful. It’s a masterful performance.
Overall, Violation is more than just a gruesome and brutal Revenge Thriller. It has a complex lead character and something to say about warranted vengeance. It’s a must watch.
Violation screens at Sundance:
Live Premiere: February 1 at 12 AM (EST)
On-demand (available for 24hrs): February 2 at 10 AM (EST)