SUNDANCE 2021 PREMIERE – Violation is the most shocking movie to come out of Sundance in years. Why? Well, in short; it dares to go to the darkest moments, show them, graphically depict them, and worse, have us relate to them. Sisters Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) and Greta (Anna Maguire) spend a fateful weekend at a lakeside cabin with their respective partners. Miriam brings along her husband Caleb (Obi Abili) while Greta has her boyfriend Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) en toe. After a long night next to the campfire Dylan wakes up drunk and cold forcing himself on Miriam. She seems to be unaffected, motionless. This sets in motion a grueling story that kills her relationship with her husband, creates an epic chasm between her and her sister Greta, and leads to an irrevocable path of vengeance in the pursuit of justice. Star, writer and director Madeleine Sims-Fewer along with co-writer and director Dusty Mancinelli have produced a devastating movie that stays with you, forcing you to ponder its subtleties. This is horror for horror fans. The uninitiated need not apply.
Flash-“forward?” to Greta and Miriam at a get-together. Greta has shorter hair, highlighted maybe, and the two are trying to reconcile after the indiscretion. Greta recalls how her older sister stood up for her in high school and how what happened to her was upstaged by her older sister’s act of heroism. A bit of overt foreshadowing maybe? Nimbly, we bounce back to the weekend in question and recount the moments that led to the crucial act of betrayal. Then, in a key, brutal scene, remarkably performed by Sims-Fewer and LaVercombe, Miriam and Daniel hash out what happened between them. While Miriam wants to explain her response, Daniel wants to deny culpability. The fire is sparked in Miriam to right a wrong and to, in effect, re-declare her loyalty to her sister. It’s on.
This is not a horror film for the masses. This is a horror film for those who know the utility of the genre. Ultimately we are here to heal. The vile nightmares that chase us are only subject to our powers of comprehension against them. Miriam delivers her brand of scorched-earth justice in an attempt to make things right. Along the way, we are subject to some of the most grueling scenes since Takashi Miike’s Audition. No, really. Put the kids to bed and have the remote handy. This one is rough.
Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli along with the spectacular performance from Jesse LaVercombe offer next-level horror. We are invited on a tour of human darkness and then asked to think about things. Even after you have processed what you have seen, the moments stay with you, they haunt you, demanding you shine a light on the dark recesses of your perception.
The good news here is that Violation was astutely acquired by SHUDDER ahead of the Sundance screening so many of you will have the chance to watch it. Our advice; Be patient. This one wants to really affect you. This isn’t a horror film for everyone, but its fans will connect with it at once.
8 out 0f 10