‘Do Revenge’ (2022) Review: An Unpredictable and Dazzling Dark Comedy
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s Do Revenge takes us back to the 90s. When two teenage girls become social pariahs in high school, all they want to do is avenge themselves and get rid of their bullies. Just like these girls, the movie is obsessed with nostalgia. With references to teen movies of the past, such as Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s All That, and Clueless; and even the return of the 90s queen Sarah Michelle Gellar, who plays the principal, it certainly has fun and delicious results.
Drea Thomas (Camilla Mendes) is the most popular teenager in high school. She attends the school on a scholarship and has worked hard to achieve the highest grades in school and plans to attend a good college. Her life is perfect — or that’s how she wants it to be viewed by her popular, uber-rich boyfriend, Max (Austin Abrams) and her so-called best friend Tara (Alisha Boe). Max asks Drea to send an explicit nude video to Max, only for him to leak it to everyone at school. When Drea confronts him about the leak, he plays the victim and apologises. He turns the whole school and their group of friends against her for assaulting him, and her social status and her path to a good college are ruined.
Enter Eleanor (Maya Hawke). She, too, was bullied and cast aside by her crush, Carissa (Ava Capri), who spread a rumour that she had forcefully kissed her. When Drea and Eleanor’s paths cross at the school, they bond over the people that have wronged them. They realise that they could hatch a murderous-vengeance plan and swap the targets: Drea will go after Carissa, and Eleanor will destroy Max and his group of friends.
Do Revenge focuses mainly on popular cliques and nasty teenage drama. It’s steeped in nostalgia, paying homage to the late 90s and early 2000s movies, which either works well or gets tired. But Robinson knows what she wants to do with this movie and genre. The movie alternates between Drea’s and Eleanor’s perspectives to show their different lives. The revenge plot doesn’t try to overcomplicate itself with complex subplots, but it doesn’t dive into ridiculously sociopathic justifications for the two revenge-obsessed teenagers.
While Drea and Eleanor try to prove that their vengeance assignments are justifiable because they both are social outcasts, they try to harm others by repeating their original sin. By leaking Max’s private messages to everyone else at school. Max is the villain. He’s an opportunistic, wealthy student who could get away with anything. He humiliates Drea further by singling her out at the school assembly and announcing a club as a form of allyship toward women called “Cis-Hetero Men Championing Female Identifying Students League.” Because of Max’s nasty behaviour, it’s easier to root for Drea and Eleanor’s plans for him. Their plan is complex to execute, but despite the various hiccups, the two friends successfully destroy him.
As the story progresses, their obsession grows to ridiculous levels. When Eleanor gets closer to Max and his crew, Drea becomes increasingly jealous and tries to control every aspect of their plan, down to her vengeance partner’s makeover. Eleanor is not someone who dresses like the “It Girls” at their school. So, to fit into Max’s wealthy friend group, Drea gives her a makeover. In this orchestrated vengeance plan, Drea and Eleanor are perfect to carry out the plan together. Even though the story roots in their success, the twist revealed at the end of the second act backtrack everything. It’s a fascinating twist that quickly turns into indefensible levels of absurdity. It’s campy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Drea and Eleanor’s friendship begins with unison to take down those who have wronged them. Then it turns into a toxic and one-sided friendship, which turns into something else entirely. But Do Revenge never tries to show that these two characters are likeable in any way possible, and don’t want to be. Mendes, known for her role as Veronica Lodge in Riverdale, plays the queen bee perfectly. She shows the ugly side of being “perfect” in a world full of terrible people and owns every scene. Both she and Hawke do a fantastic job playing the role of two people.
Do Revenge is a campy, teenage drama. It is wild and chaotic in every way possible. The ending might raise some viewers’ eyebrows, but it will leave them satisfied with how Drea and Eleanor’s vengeance plan ends for Max. It’s unpredictable, funny, and offers a refreshing entry into the teenage rom-com genre. The best thing about the movie is that it doesn’t try to stick to specific formulae. Do Revenge manages to bring the unexpected and dazzle the viewers with ridiculous, petty-level schemes.