Inspired by teen dramas of the 90s, Netflix’s “Do Revenge” put a satirical Gen Z twist on Patricia Highsmith’s “Stranger on a Train.” The psychological thriller was also the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name, following the story of two men who swap each other’s murders on the railroad.
Released on Friday, Sept. 16, director Jennifer Robinson’s version moved the setting to an environment just as dramatic: high school.
Drea, played by “Riverdale” star Camila Mendes, is desperate for vengeance after her boyfriend Max leaked her sex tape. She enlists — or depending on how you see it — is enlisted by new girl Eleanor to embark on a quest for revenge. Eleanor is portrayed by Maya Hawke, best known for her roles in “Stranger Things” and BBC’s take on “Little Women.” Her character, too, remains upset over false accusations hurled by a classmate years prior.
Believing that none of their classmates would ever suspect their friendship, the two team up to infiltrate cliques and take down one another’s enemies. While the idea was originally an outlandish hypothetical posed by Eleanor, Drea relishes the idea; soon enough, Eleanor begins referring to her as “revenge mommy.”
As the movie progresses, the lines between friendship and mere collaboration blur, resulting in a messy relationship between the two seniors.
While Drea and Eleanor’s aim to humiliate is clearly not the right way to remedy a situation in real life, “Do Revenge” leans toward satire — something made clear through their laughable actions. For example, Drea’s preferred method of destruction was drugging the entire senior class to frame Eleanor’s adversary.
Even the film’s title suggests the comedic nature of their hunt for retribution; “Do Revenge” is far from grammatically correct and the protagonists are well aware.
The film’s star-studded cast worked quite well. Drea’s ex was played by Austin Abrams of “Dash and Lily” and her former clique included Jonathan Daviss from “Outer Banks,” Paris Berelc from “Alexa and Katie” and Alisha Boe from “13 Reasons Why.”
Also making an appearance was Sophie Turner from “Game of Thrones” and queen of 90s drama Sarah Michelle Geller, best known for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Lead actresses Mendes and Hawke both brought much to the table. Mendes’ character was reminiscent of her “Riverdale” role as Veronica in terms of fashion and prep, although Drea’s humble family background highlighted their differences. Meanwhile, Hawke was seen in an entirely new light. Used to her timid portrayal of Robin, it was shocking to see Hawke’s character dressed up to the nines and exuding confidence; Eleanor’s makeover (forced upon by Drea) is one for the books.
One star that particularly stood out was Talia Ryder, who played Eleanor’s love interest, Gabbi. Her nonchalant attitude was a stark contrast to the extravagance of the rest of the cast’s characters. Ryder was recently in “Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between” with Jordan Fisher; the film received largely negative reviews, but her role as Gabbi in “Do Revenge” has me hopeful for her future in the industry.
The film’s storyline and vibrant color scheme resembled “Promising Young Woman,” a 2020 film also depicting the extreme lengths a woman goes to for revenge. Additionally, the “Do Revenge” soundtrack was very fitting; tracks included Olivia Rodrigo’s “Brutal,” Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” and Tate McRae’s “She’s All I Wanna Be.”
The film’s ending wrapped up far too quickly and may have been strengthened by the inclusion of some parental figures — especially considering the multiple references to Drea’s mother. Overall, however, “Do Revenge” was a fun and humorous film, teaching you exactly how not to exact vengeance on high school enemies.