By Pen Fang
Netflix’s new Do Revenge seems to follow yet another narrative of adults playing teens in high school, cliches, and wild storylines. And maybe it is — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
The film follows Drea, the “it-girl” of Rosehill High School seeking revenge after her ex-boyfriend leaked her private videos, and Eleanor, a new student seeking revenge on a student who had outed her previously and started a rumor that ruined her life. And when the two meet up, they realize perhaps the key to vengeance lies in the other. What follows is elaborate revenge scheme after elaborate revenge scheme, plus some added twists (because why not).
Something it does amazingly is its portrayal of highly-developed, flawed leads. Each character is driven by their own messy aspirations and motives, which makes the movie a whole lot more interesting. Both leads are sympathetic, and both do things that shouldn’t be justified, which adds an extra layer. Furthermore, it taps into general struggles associated with being a teenager — where intimacy can lead, identity and identity struggles, bad people, competition, and bad decision-making, to name a few — and ups the antics.
The cast is as Netflix as it can be, featuring Riverdale’s Camila Mendes as Drea and Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke as Eleanor, with other names like Talia Ryder and Euphoria’s Austin Abrams. The film is quite well-acted, contributing to the overall fun nature and making it easier to overlook some of the overused high school drama elements.
Speaking of which, Do Revenge is very reminiscent of the teen high school comedies of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It features extravagant Y2K-inspired costume choices (think Clueless) and even the obligatory high school tour (Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You), even featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the principal of Rosehill. But perhaps its greatest inspiration is Strangers on a Train, which director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson cited as her source of initial inspiration. Another highlight of the film is the soundtrack, complete with songs from Olivia Rodrigo, MUNA, and Billie Eilish, and classics like Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” and Meredith Brooks’ “B*tch.” Plus, there’s a reference to Taylor Swift.
Overall, Do Revenge is fun. It’s indulgent and over-the-top, kind of campy, and all sorts of dramatic. It captures the nostalgia and energy of late 90’s and early 00’s teen comedies. It even features Sophie Turner screaming “I don’t do cocaine!” with the fire of a million suns. And it’s definitely a ride discovering what Drea and Eleanor are truly made of as they, indeed, do revenge.