Our Take: 4/5 Stars
Netflix’s new black comedy “Do Revenge,” is a wickedly fun watch that pays homage to 90s and early 2000s teen flick classics while putting its own Gen Z spin on it. The story follows two teen girls, Drea (Camila Mendes, “Riverdale”), the queen bee who falls from her throne, and the new girl in school, Eleanor (Maya Hawke, “Stranger Things”).
While this sounds exactly like the start of other beloved films like “Mean Girls” and “Clueless,” this movie takes the concept and adds a refreshing and modern twist. While there are clear references that a majority of American Millenial and Gen Z viewers will easily pick up, the plot takes most of its influence from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.”
“Strangers on a Train” is a psychological thriller in which a killer convinces a stranger to “swap” murders with him to make it more diffiuclt for the police to figure out the motive and catch them. This movie swaps revenge schemes rather than homicides.
The film begins with Drea thriving at the top of her prestigious private school’s social pyramid, tons of friends, a woke and artsy boyfriend, and a promising future. This “queen bee” character in similar media from the past couple of decades has generally been rich, white and blonde, but in “Do Revenge” wokeness and politically correct culture is implemented and poked fun at to create a more modern troupe.
Drea is a woman of color, which is a phrase that is constantly repeated and is almost used as a tactic to deflect criticism towards her. She is also a scholarship student at her private school, making her very different from everyone else. The school, Rosehill Country Day High School, is a hub for the children of the affluent and influential who are on the pipeline to Ivy League institutions.
While Drea is outwardly able to maintain a picture perfect image of a hardworking and influential POC who came from nothing with a promising future in law, she is also incredibly cunning and willing to do anything to get what she wants. It is the summer before senior year and Drea is on her way to her dream school Yale, when things take a turn when Drea’s boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams, “Euphoria”) asks her to send him “something to remember her by’’ while they are apart. The risque video is leaked, leading to Drea punching Max out of anger for betraying her. Max convinces the student body that he was hacked and did not leak the video, and everyone abandons Drea.
Moving into summer, Drea and Eleanor meet and Drea learns that she has also been a victim to life ruining lies by someone at Rosehill, and they come up with a year-long scheme to enact each other’s revenge plots.
Without spoiling any more of the plot, just know that the movie is not as predictable as it seems. The dialogue is very fitting for the time, and it is very nice to finally see Gen Z mannerisms and sayings being showcased properly on screen. Without feeling forced, it showcases the teen revenge makeover story in a campy lens.
The mix and switch between modern references and the 90s/early 2000s is perfectly balanced and obvious. A key example of this being the extremely necessary makeover montage and, of course, the high school clique tour. The overall aesthetic and styling in the movie was also very deliberate and fun to look at.
Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (“Someone Great”) is known for her bright and campy aesthetic that juxtaposes dark plot concepts. In “Do Revenge,” so many bad things happen to these characters, but all while wearing bright pastel uniforms and in Instagram-worthy settings.
The movie is a jam packed with incredible performances, great production and a modern take in an overly saturated genre. It is very hard to make something fresh while also referencing some of the most well-known teen movies of the generation, but “Do Revenge” does this with ease.