Blu-ray Review: BOUND TO VENGEANCE

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Revenge thriller comes to Blu-ray from Scream Factory.

It would be easy to over think a film like BOUND TO VENGEANCE, to politicize it and to lard it in with the glut of rape-revenge horror films that academics have slavishly dissected and, ultimately, given more credence to than most of them warrant. The typical rape-revenge formula is a simple, perverse beauty and the beast distillation, jacked up for easy outrage and queasy titillation. Most of them try to have it both ways, reveling in the sordid, sad details of a crime and then apologizing for their actions by celebrating graphic scenes of revenge. True, most pictures in this tired sub-sub-genre are junkfood made for dimwits (apologies to dimwits), which makes the higher-education chin-stroking that surrounds them even sillier, like sending an elite food critic on assignment to review a 6-pack of Chicken McNuggets.

So, yes, on its surface BOUND TO VENGEANCE might seem like yet another post-LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT toss-off, but it’s not. Unlike slick, reactionary trash like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (original, remake, sequels, the whole ugly enchilada), BOUND only touches on sexual assault as its catalyst and never wallows in the gynecological muck to get its audience going. It’s a “what-if” action fantasy thriller about the victim flipping the balance of power and racing the clock. In fact, it’s the sort of film that Liam Neeson and Nicolas Cage seem to do these days (even the title sounds like a DTV Cage potboiler), except instead of an angry dad losing his shit on a gaggle of scumbags to save the day, it’s the character that usually needs to be saved steering the good ship vengeance.

After a run in festivals and theaters earlier this year from IFC Midnight (read our initial review HERE), the movie is finally making it to Blu-ray and DVD (a double format release) courtesy of Scream Factory, who occasionally step away from their awesome classics restorations to focus on contemporary pictures like this (though they offer absolutely no extras save for the trailer). Tina Ivlav stars as Eve, a young woman who when we find her, is chained to a filthy floor and about to be fed by her sniggering captor (Richard Tyson). But the tables turn quickly when Eve attacks the man and snatches his keys, unlocking her shackles and imprisoning the dazed, bleeding antagonist in his own trap. As Simon Boswell’s punishing electronic score swells on the soundtrack, Eve runs screaming from the house, looking for an exit and quickly realizes she’s in the middle of nowhere, her screams for help sucked into the night winds. She runs back to the house and in her rush to find car keys, stumbles upon a series of photos of other women, obviously in states of stress and abuse and apparently kept in other house scattered across the city. Suddenly pushed past the point of caring about her own fate, she bolts back to the basement where she beats the bastard some more and forces him at gunpoint to drive her to the other houses to find the other victims.

What follows is a violent, unpleasant and tense (and often, very strange) two-hander between Eve and her nemesis (who we later learn is named Phil) as he keeps trying to manipulate the situation and cloud her already fevered senses, resulting in much inadvertent bloodshed. But as the pair drive deeper into the blood-spattered night, Eve gets closer and closer to the ultimate truth about her situation.

BOUND TO VENGEANCE is ultimately a daft, pulpy descent into stylized nastiness. Director J.M. Cravioto takes a slim presence and works it hard, jumping between the grimy night scenes and flashback day-lit sequences, and exploits that deft, aforementioned Boswell score to full effect. This is really nothing more than a noir-infused action film, but it’s so sensational and baroque that it leaks easily into horror. I’m not sure if it’s a good film but it’s tight, taut, never dull and offers some nice deviations from the usual revenge programmer, enough that I certainly can recommend it as a fine bit of filthy time-wasting.

And if you want a similarly themed but intellectually superior film that invites deeper analysis, save your synapses for the recent psychodrama JULIA on for size. Now there’s a complex film that subverts expectations and transcends…

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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