By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
This dramatic horror film from Canada deals with the very traumatic problem of rape and abuse, but offers a more frightening and disturbing take on the aftermath of such trauma. Written and directed by, and starring Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Violation depicts what can happen when a family’s once happy and comfortable relationship gets totally turned inside out when a family member abuses another. The film is a rather gut-wrenching and unflinching piece that shows how extensive the damaged caused by rape can really destroy a person’s psyche.
Sims-Fewer stars as Miriam, a mostly sweet-natured, but possibly troubled woman who has been struggling with maintaining a happy marriage with husband Caleb (Obi Abili). Miriam and Caleb visit her sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and her husband Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe). Though some problems with Miriam’s relation with both her husband and sister do surface, everyone seems to be having a great time. Miriam actually shares a warm and playful chemistry with her brother-in-law too. However, things get way out of hand as the evening proceeds, leaving Miriam shattered beyond any repair. This totally changes the tone of the visit and result in some incredible violence in the events that follow.
I have to say that this film took a while for me to absorb and appreciate. This is most certainly a difficult film to experience and will especially be difficult for anyone who has been assaulted or abused. The violence that results in the film is meticulously depicted with such detail that it actually takes way too much time. That is my singular complaint about the film. It literally becomes a procedural moment that, while it is difficult to watch, actually just feels like the filmmakers took it too far.
Nevertheless, I still applaud the audacity and boldness they have to depict a far less glorified payback-for-assault story that goes to such shocking levels that are actually more frightening than the assault itself. I also applaud the performance of writer/director/actor Madeleine Sims-Fewer who is absolutely incredible as Miriam. The entire cast performs well, but it is Sims-Fewer who without a doubt astounds.
The film screened at SXSW, but is now available for streaming via the horror service Shudder. Though it is a film I highly recommend, I do hope that my readers proceed with caution. This film is not at all for the faint of heart.