When Netflix released the trailer for Do Revenge, most of us rolled our eyes at yet another remake. However, a combination of Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes was admittedly fascinating. To see the Stranger Things and Riverdale actresses wreak havoc on an affluent, prim and proper high school seemed to be a perfect creation by Jennifer Kaylin Robinson.
Do Revenge is yet another adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s acclaimed 1950 novel, Strangers on a Train. Alfred Hitchcock adapted the story in 1951, followed by Robert Sparr in 1969. When Robinson decided to do the same with a tiny twist of her own, audience members were intrigued.
Do Revenge is essentially Highsmith’s novel set in a darker, more sociopathic setting- a high school where the most manipulative and psychologically deranged creatures lurk- teenagers. Wealthy, posh and proud, these teenagers live sheltered lives and derive utmost pleasure from stepping all over each other’s sense of dignity and esteem.
The thirst for vengeance forms the crux of the story. Drea, a 17-year-old, starts off with a pretty psychopathic proclamation where she has a perfectly curated high school life, reeking of money, fame, friends and a perfect boyfriend. However, their relationship is a sham and is exposed when a private video of hers is leaked by the leech of a boyfriend, and she quickly becomes a pariah.
Enter Eleanor, a social outcast struggling with her lesbian identity. Used to being ostracized for being wrongfully framed for non-consent, Eleanor empathizes with Drea, and the two quickly become friends. Together, they plan a course of action to seek revenge against their perpetrators and, in turn, discover valuable lessons about life, friendship and morality.
Starring Mendes, Hawke, Austin Abrams, Ava Capri, Sophie Turner, Rish Shah, Alisha Boe, Jonathan Davis, Maia Reficco, Paris Berelc, Talia Ryder and Alisha Boe, among others, the film, however, is a complete drab.
Netflix has too many high school revenge dramas. Some are genuinely good, while most others have fallen apart. Not even Mendes and Hawke’s undeniable chemistry can salvage the film from being the utter disaster that it is. Steeped in grandeur, teenage sex and cannabis-fuelled dinner parties, the film seems repetitive and boring.
Towards the end, Drea and Eleanor finally come to realize each other’s plans. Drea finds out how Eleanor curated the former’s social ostracisation to seek revenge for bullying- Drea hurt Eleanor’s self-esteem as an adolescent in summer camp and caused the latter to get a nose job. As secrets are revealed, and murky truths come to the fore, both parties are incredibly hurt. However, women standing by women is the central theme of the film, which is honestly amazing but could have had better execution.
When Drea’s ex comes forward to hurt her with his malicious words, Eleanor’s camera records it all and later exposes his dubious nature to the entire school leading to him being alienated. He later joins an egotistic males’ club.
The duo, however, are seen skipping the graduation party and driving into the horizon, cementing their lifelong “real” friendship. The ending is a letdown in several ways but to be fair, the entire film is pretty much so. Given the financial losses it has faced over the months, one would expect Netflix to invest wisely. Or maybe not!