31 Days of Horror, Day 17
In Julia, a horror film from 2015, a woman (named, wait for it, Julia) sets out to get revenge on the men who raped her. If that sounds even remotely familiar, it’s because this sort of thing has been done before – much, much better. A partial list:
- I Spit on Your Grave
- Last House on the Left
- Thriller: A Cruel Picture (which provided some inspiration for Kill Bill)
- American Mary
Not surprisingly, I’ve seen all of these movies, so I went into Julia optimistic that director Matthew A. Brown would bring something fresh to the table. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t. Aside from the catalyst for the titular character’s revenge quest being some sort of weirdo rape survivors’ cult (a concept that doesn’t hold up to even the slightest bit of scrutiny), there’s nothing new here.
Even worse, the movie wears a proto-feminist façade that betrays this subgenre’s roots. In I Spit on Your Grave, it was the violence that was meant to seduce the viewer, not the rape that sets it off. In Julia, it’s the opposite. Much of the violence takes place off screen. We are, however, treated to multiple scenes of full-frontal nudity, as well as some very tame girl-on-girl kissing. Do I object to that sort of thing? No. Does it make for a good horror movie? Negatory, good buddy.
Whatever. We’re 17 days in, fam, and I fear all hope is gone. Maybe I just overanalyze everything. Maybe I’ve just seen too many really good horror movies. It’s telling when even the positive reviews for Julia spend paragraphs talking about the film’s style, but devote little discussion to the plot. Pulling off the whole style over substance thing only works with the right kind of talent. Nicolas Winding Refn is a master of that sort of thing. Brown clearly isn’t.