Channeling the best in 90s and early 2000s teen-movie charm coupled with signature, biting dark humor, Netflix’s Do Revenge would fit nicely alongside films like Mean Girls, Jawbreaker, and Heathers. Not only is the fashion completely on point, but the soundtrack is absolutely killer. An ensemble cast ready to devour their bitchy dialogue is led by Camila Mendes (Riverdale, The Perfect Date) and Maya Hawke (Stranger Things, Mainstream)—I simply could not get enough of this instantly-iconic duo. Paying tribute to the high school black comedies of yesteryear, Do Revenge appears destined to become a modern cult classic.
Drea (Mendes) is on top of the world. Do Revenge starts off with a ridiculously over-the-top party held in Drea’s honor, hosted by her friend, Tara (Alisha Boe, 13 Reasons Why, Paranormal Activity 4), at her posh mansion. While her friends were “born into this life,” Drea has carefully curated her journey every step of the way as she rode on their coattails. Between cupcakes with Drea’s face on them, fireworks, and just about their entire school on the guest list, there is truly no expense spared. After a steamy make out session with the most popular guy at school and Drea’s current boyfriend, Max (Austin Abrams, Euphoria, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark), and a prestigious spot on Teen Vogue’s Next Gen list, Drea appears destined for her dreams of Yale. Max urges Drea to send him a video to “keep him company” while she will be away at school—just like that, Drea’s perfect world quickly comes crashing down.
Drea’s video leaks everywhere, and she immediately confronts Max by swiftly punching him in the face. Despite his claims that someone hacked his phone, Drea is not convinced of his innocence. However, the altercation does result in a sit-down with the school’s Headmaster (played by a surprise TV and film legend). The Headmaster puts Drea on academic probation, warns her about the possibility of her scholarship being revoked at further outbursts, and gives her first piece of sage advice: channel your anger into getting what you want. As the summer rolls around, Eleanor (Hawke) takes over narrating duties to get us invested in her story. She goes to tennis camp, and sets her eyes on becoming best friends with Drea, now a social outcast whose sex tape constantly pops up in public.
A friendship is hatched between Eleanor and Drea throughout the summer, as they bond over strikingly similar shared traumas. Drea has taken all the flack for the incident that occurred with Max while he faces zero repercussions. Eleanor shares a story with Drea about an awful girl named Carissa (Ava Capri, Love, Victor) who once outed her as a predatory lesbian at camp when they were children. Eleanor then reveals that as senior year approaches, she will be transferring to Rosehill—the very same school that Drea attends! A primal scream between the girls perfectly epitomizes their blossoming friendship.
Soon enough, summer is over, and fall has begun. Welcome to Rosehill, where, like every other high school teen movie to exist, everyone is split up into borderline-ridiculous cliques. There are the Instagram bitches, the horny theater kids, the farm kids, and Rosehill’s Royal Court, the entitled former friend group of Drea that have abandoned her in the wake of the Max scandal. After a cringeworthy senior class president speech from Max wherein he reveals a new cis-male ally club for women’s rights, Drea and Eleanor hatch a plan in secret. As two “wounded soldiers,” the duo decide to team up and “do each other’s revenge!” Eleanor will form a mysterious identity as the school’s new “it” girl to infiltrate the Royal Court; Drea will do her community service at the school’s farm run by Carissa. Together, Eleanor and Drea will categorically destroy their rivals!
From here, Do Revenge really kicks off. Drea urges Eleanor to channel her “Glennergy” into taking down Max—that’s Glenn Close energy, glimpsed in 1987’s Fatal Attraction. Eleanor, of course, gets a makeover that transforms her into “high status cunt.” She finds possible love with Gabbi (Talia Ryder, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between), making things somewhat messy as Gabbi is actually Max’s sister. Drea likewise is drawn to sweet blue-haired surfer/artist Russ (Rish Shah, Ms. Marvel, India Sweets and Spices), best friends with Carissa and fellow farm kid. The fun of the film is watching the girls connive and scheme, plotting to get revenge on the narcissists while potentially becoming the very people they hate. Does Drea even view Eleanor as a real friend, or just a means to an end? Are Eleanor’s motives are pure as they appear? These questions and many more arise as Do Revenge continues to cycle through the seasons up to the end of senior year in style.
For any lover of these types of movies, Do Revenge nails the exact tone I have grown to love over the years. It manages to hit familiar beats, including an exciting, explosive finale that owes a lot to Jawbreaker, yet it does so with a loving, assured tribute to the past. Hits like “Flagpole Sitta,” “How’s It Going to Be,” and “Praise You” flow magically along with newer tunes such as “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, a clever twist planted courtesy of a plethora of breadcrumbs slid in to blow my mind. Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke make for the perfect pairing, and The Headmaster steals the show as a constant deliverer of sage advice. Love it or hate it, Do Revenge is a singular, uproariously fun teen flick that does justice to its outrageous concept, courtesy of brilliant writing from director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and her co-writer Celeste Ballard.
Get ready to Do Revenge when it concocts a juicy scheme exclusively for Netflix on Friday, September 16th.