Movie Review: “Julia” seeks therapeutic revenge for her rape

jul

Julia has been raped. She is shocked, humiliated, alone and traumatized.

But she’s not going to just accept this, and a future of victimhood. We can see it in her deadened eyes as she washes the blood and horror off in the tub, after crawling back to apartment from the beach where the coked up rich boys left her.

“Julia” is a standard-issue rape-revenge thriller, with a serious twist. No, it’s not that she (Ashley C. Williams) was made a victim by guys (med students?) doing The Full Cosby on her — drugging her drink so that she’s awake but helpless as they gang rape her and leave her for dead.

It’s her search for a solution to righting this wrong that is of interest here. She’s not just prowling Internet message boards, looking for answers (and a gun). What she overhears in a bar from other women. There’s this doctor and this bizarre, secret “therapy.” Desperate, she follows Sadie (Tahnya Tozzi), who assures her “It’s real” and that “No one will ever hold power over you again.”

The unseen doctor (Jack Noseworthy) gives cryptic advice and asks if she went to the cops or documented the crime. He cautions her that “making it personal will keep you in the victim’s mindset.”

And then he sends Julia out with Sadie, into the bars and nightclubs, prowling — picking off men who are there with dates, luring them, beating them. And worse.

Writer-director Matthew A. Brown serves up a lurid, sexually explicit and bloody vengeance tale, as women ritually punish and/or slaughter their tormentors, or just no-good men in general. He sets this in the world of plastic surgery (Julia is a nurse), and hints that body image issues haunt the various victims as well.

Williams, having crossed the line with the first film to make her infamous (“The Human Centipede”), makes Julia mysterious and somewhat inscrutable, even if the tale unfolding around her is obvious and primal.

“Julia” doesn’t stand up to much serious parsing. It’s more about a look, a serious of set-piece “punishments” and blood, than ideas or big statements on the state of womanhood in New York culture. It promises more than it, frankly, delivers, in theme, message and morality. Whatever its ambitions, this is just another vengeance fantasy and one that doesn’t transcend its genre.

1half-star

MPAA Rating:R for a brutal rape, strong bloody violence, graphic nudity, language and some drug use

Cast: Ashley C. Williams, Tahyna Tozzi, Brad Koed, Ryan Cooper, Jack Noseworthy
Credits: Written and directed by Matthew A. Brown. An Archstone release.

Running time:1:33

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