There are tons of sub-genres that make up horror as a whole. Some make sense — creature feature, supernatural, slasher — while some are a little more out there — torture [porn], body horror. I think the rape/revenge flicks that seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I used to think that if you saw one of these movies, you’ve seen them all… until I watched Matthew A. Brown’s newest project, Julia, that is…
After being raped by a group of four men, the already quiet and timid Julia (Ashley C. Williams, The Human Centipede (First Sequence)) is even worse for wear. While frequenting a bar that she took to after the incident, she overhears a group of women talking about this new form of therapy aimed at those who have been sexually assaulted. She tries to find out more from one of the women, but is only embarrassed even more when the woman laughs in her face. She leaves the bar in a hurry, only to be followed by another stranger, Sadie (Tahyna Tozzi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), who tells her that she’d be perfect for this new radical treatment. Julia meets the therapist who agrees to help her, but she must follow every instruction of his to a tee, or there will be some pretty ‘severe consequences.’
At this point, I believe that I have become spoiled by the brutal revenge flicks like I Spit on Your Grave. Now, every time I go into a film of this nature, I expect some of the most relentless forms of vengeance ever shown on camera. That is not the case with Julia, however. Don’t get me wrong, Matthew Brown’s film is certainly bloody and ruthless in its own right, but it achieves this in a different way than most horror films of today. For example, instead of using explicit detail to carve out a victim’s eyes, only the aftermath is shown. It is equally as shocking, if not more so, because now the viewers’ imagination can take over. In the ISoYG franchise, every kill unfolds methodically in front of our eyes, while Julia is able to pull off a similar aggressiveness without all of the fancy footwork. The blood-soaked actresses and off-camera mutilations are just as effective, if you ask me!
Julia features some great practical effects work and the acting by all parties is flawless — especially by our lead, Ashley C. Williams who is perfect as the broken down Julia — but where this film really shines is it’s new-school take on the sub-genre. It is hard to put my finger on it, but there is a definite Martyrs feeling to this one. If any of you guys have seen Pascal Laugier‘s 2008 film, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and you’d think that said ‘feeling’ would be pretty difficult to replicate. Brown’s movie, however, does a perfect job doing so, perhaps without even trying to. There seem to be several things to pay attention to here and following our main character’s vengeance-fueled journey is only half of the story. The major variable here is the therapist. He is certainly a mysterious character, but when the ‘reveal’ at the end occurs, that’s when things really strike that new-age chord.
If you like the revenge sub-genre, you definitely do not want to miss out on Julia. It contains some fantastic acting, beautiful practical effects, and a truly effective script. Julia opens in select theaters today, October 23, so be sure to check it out!
I give this one 4 meat cleavers out of 5.