Review: Designed for discomfort, ‘Violation’ considers the cost of revenge

Madeleine Sims-Fewer in the movie "Violation."

From its opening of a wolf devouring a rabbit to early shots of flies on the surface of a water, “Violation” portends that something awful is going to happen from the very beginning in this disturbing drama. But the horror here doesn’t end with the titular act of violence; instead, the feature film debut from directors Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli explores its aftermath in even gorier detail, questioning if revenge is ever truly worth the price.

Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli‘s script doesn’t proceed linearly, discomfiting the audience even beyond the acts themselves. Quieter moments are filled with dread and nastiness, though the conversation might seem light. Sisters Miriam (Sims-Fewer) and Greta (Anna Maguire) are close but competitive, and a weekend spent by Miriam and her husband, Caleb (Obi Abili), at the lake house of Greta and her husband, Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe), moves between easy banter and awkward tension. However, the situation soon deteriorates, and Miriam decides that she has no other option than vengeance.

Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli have crafted a morally complex film that mingles sex and violence in ways that are meant to make the audience uncomfortable. Extreme close-ups at once create a feeling of raw intimacy and the thinking that we’re often not getting the full picture — until we do. “Violation” also features long, unforgiving takes that don’t spare the viewer of the full brutality of what is happening to these people.


Shot entirely in natural light by Adam Crosby, “Violation” plays in the same space as “Promising Young Woman” with its dissection of how taking revenge takes its toll on everyone involved. However, this starkly beautiful, utterly bleak film stands in contrast to that candy-coated dark comedy with effective but grim scenes that you may wish you could forget.


Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Playing: Available March 25 on Shudder