VIOLATION is a new Shudder horror movie in the revenge subgenre. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the better in the rather overpopulated niche. Read our full Violation movie review here and find it on Shudder now!
VIOLATION is a new Shudder horror movie. Unlike other horror subgenres, “revenge horror” summarizes the entire story arcs of its cinematic entries.
The same is true for Violation, a 2020 festival-debuting film written and directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer, that, in essence, is another contribution to a subgenre overpopulated by similarly mediocre films.
The one-sentence Shudder summary for this film is, “A troubled woman, betrayed by her sister and brother-in-law, embarks on a vicious crusade of revenge.” So far, so good.
But one thing I’ve learned from perusing Shudder’s user reviews is that they are too generous. So, it did not bode well that the average review was 3/5 skulls (as of March 28), ultimately reflecting a dichotomy of those who loved or hated it.
Before I continue (and before you read further), Violation opens with the following warning. While I do not go into the graphic and gory details, it’s important that you, the reader, are aware.
Gaslighting, distrust, and rape provoke revenge in Violation
Violation opens with Miriam (Sims-Fewer) and Caleb (Obi Abili) driving to visit Miriam’s sister, Greta (Anna Maguire), and brother-in-law, Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe). Miriam and Greta have a shaky relationship, exacerbated by Greta leaving London (where Miriam lives) to have an outdoorsy life with Dylan at a (beautiful) lake house (reminiscent of the forest setting in It Comes at Night).
That evening, when Miriam and Dylan are by the fire, Miriam confides in Dylan about her marriage troubles. After impulsively kissing Dylan, Miriam falls asleep by the fire but wakes up the next morning to Dylan raping her.
Later that day, Miriam confronts Dylan, but he gaslights her, suggesting they are both to blame. Miriam then tells Greta, but Greta refuses to believe Miriam, followed by a heartbreaking line…
Miriam realizes that it is her job to save Greta from Dylan, a man who has potentially turned her sister against her. Naturally, for the subgenre, Miriam seeks revenge in graphical and gory ways.
As the film ends, while not directly shown, it’s also possible that Miriam went a bit “Robert-Pickton” on Dylan’s family who had come to visit (well, sans Dylan).
Execution fails to match potential in Violation
(1) Sims-Fewer was brilliant, embodying every emotion from grief to anger to cruelty. She has real potential to play a genre-bending “final girl” in any future horror work.
(2) The classical, angelic background music superbly sets the ambiance.
(3) Dylan’s and Greta’s gaslighting made me doubt whether I was viewing either what Miriam had experienced, her errant recollection, or even a conscious falsehood to reclaim her relationship with Greta.
(1) At 1:47 in duration, while it necessitated a slow pace, Violation was too sluggish in tempo, coupled with extensive dialogues that felt contrived (e.g., unfulfilled foreshadowing).
(2) The temporal discontinuities (flashbacks/flashforwards) were ill-timed, the first occurring without any warning, leaving me to question if I accidentally fast-forwarded the film.
(3) The poorly written ending left much to be desired. While I imagine the film attempted a “show not tell” approach, too much work was put on the viewer to infer what was not even shown.
Watch Violation on Shudder
Like many revenge-horror films, Violation had 4-star potential and 2-star execution. Sims-Fewer’s performance was not enough to revive a weaker, lethargic screenplay.
Truthfully, it was difficult to choose a 2- or 3-star rating for a film that would have easily garnered 2.5 stars (but, as with crying in baseball, there are no half-stars at HoH). Per our rating system and Violation’s discretionary warning, my 2-star rating reflects that it will “suit some viewers but might not be for everyone.”
Violation was released on Shudder on March 26, 2021.
Writers/Directors: Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli
Stars: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger
With her marriage about to implode, Miriam returns to her hometown to seek solace in the comfort of her younger sister and brother-in-law. But one evening a tiny slip in judgement leads to a catastrophic betrayal, leaving Miriam shocked, reeling, and furious. Believing her only recourse is to exact revenge, Miriam takes extreme action, but the price of retribution is high, and she is not prepared for the toll it takes as she begins to emotionally and psychologically unravel.