Revenge gets a new name with latest vigilante justice film Guilt. Strong performances and an engaging “tried-and-true” concept battled thin storylines and slow pacing, but thankfully the performances and compelling concept won the day making Guilt worth the view.
Guilt follows Jessie (Janet Shay), a psychiatrist turned vengeance extraordinaire. Her earlier professional years consisted of focusing on children and the unimaginable horrors they faced. This evolved into Jessie taking more of a “hands-on” approach to helping these children confront their issues. In her own form of vigilante justice, Jessie began doling out punishments she felt befitting of the crime committed by the abusers (which usually meant brutally murdering them and dumping their bodies out in the Australian bush). When a former patient returns with a confession about his past, Jessie begins to realize that not all is black and white and she begins to be slowly consumed by a new feeling… guilt.
The story itself has a lot of moving elements. Child abuse is a touchy subject and one that is universally accepted as horrific and far too common. This universal understanding is where Jessie’s character is able to thrive. Not only is she subjected to many stories of abuse from her clients, but it is also strongly hinted that her sister (and possibly Jessie) experienced sexual abuse as children. With so much sadness and despair plaguing her existence, it only seems right that Jessie does something about it… and audiences have no trouble rooting for her.
Though Guilt was engaging, these moving themes were dampened by the slow pacing. Moments seemed to drag on and some of the storylines felt as though it could use a little “beefing up”. The title suggests that viewers will be exploring the depths of Jessie’s guilt and how her choices affect her new reality. We are definitely taken down a winding path and bear witness to a dramatic avalanche of events, but we continue down the winding road before fully witnessing the avalanche. I would have very much liked to explore Jessie’s guilt further and I would have liked to see it impact her in a way that feels more permanent than just a passing thought.
Janet Shay does an excellent job as Jessie. She is dark, angry, intense, and captures the fighting spirit needed in a female revenge movie. Some moments felt flat, but they were fleeting and didn’t distract from the fact that she is Equalizer meets Death Wish and not to be messed with. Hayley Flowers delivers a dramatic and moving performance as Grace (convicted child trafficking accomplice who is released after a re-trial). She captures and personifies the idea that things may not always be so one-sided. We are able to get a glimpse into how and why people are capable of doing terrible things. Grace is very clearly a damaged, conflicted, and complicated individual. Flowers successfully embodies this and I eagerly await future performances from her.
Overall, Guilt was a little stale due to a thin storyline, but the story elements that were there were enjoyable and the performances deserved recognition. Fans of female revenge flicks will definitely enjoy Guilt, which is now available on Digital, Video on Demand, and DVD.
5 out of 10