Of the myriad sub-genres in horror, rape-revenge is one that this reviewer is not overly fond off, although there are a few notable exceptions (the superlative Thriller: A Cruel Picture and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45 spring to mind.) That being said, tossing in the deceased spirit of a vengeful Apache warrior and a rapidly decomposing, maggot-ridden body into the blender makes the resultant mixture something else entirely.
In Avenged, Amanda Adrienne plays Zoe, (perhaps a tribute to Ms. 45’s lead actress Zoë Lund?) a young deaf-mute driving through the American South West to move in with her fiancée, Dane.
Along the way, Zoe stops to take selfies in front of cacti and other sights of interest to send to her betrothed. Whilst driving through New Mexico, she snaps a shot of a crow and takes her eye of the road to send the pic to Dane. Text sent, Zoe returns her attention just in time to narrowly avoid hitting a young Native American standing in the middle of the highway. (PSA: Don’t Text and Drive; It’s Dangerous – The More You Know!)
Turns out the man she almost hit and another were running away from a group of racist rednecks. She drags him into the backseat of her car while the “good ‘ol boys” run over the other. The patriarch of the clan, West, then pulls out a Rambo-esque knife and repeatedly stabs the poor unfortunate in the car. As Zoe tries to flee, they shoot her in the leg and drag her into their vehicle.
When Zoe wakes, she’s in the rednecks’ shitshack bound to a bed with barbed wire. They savagely beat and rape her, and the gang’s unofficial leader Trey notices a photo of Dane and takes umbrage to the fact that Zoe’s fiancee is black. He also takes great pride in showing off his collection of dead “Injun” skulls, a collection started by his great-grandfather.
In a wonderfully gruesome bit, Zoe determinedly escapes her barbed wire shackles but her escape attempt is cut short when she is stabbed by West. They bury her out in the desert where she is found barely clinging to life by a Native shaman. He attempts to bring her back, and in doing so, imbues her body with the spirit of a bloodthirsty Apache tribal chief who was betrayed by Trey’s ancestor.
The now possessed Zoe makes her way to town where she uses a payphone to call Dane. She also spots another of her attackers, Jed, entering a bar and notices he’s a deputy sheriff. No matter. Possessed by the Apache Chief’s spirit of vengeance, Zoe enters the bar, sticks the shit out of Jed with a broken beer bottle and pulls out almost the entirety of his intestines! Meanwhile, Dane triangulates the call and races out to rescue his girl whom he assumes is still on the right side of the daisies.
Two-thirds of the way in, Avenged takes a tonal shift and becomes so OTT and ridiculously kick-ass that it’s positively endearing. Of course, you’re going to root for the heroine, but when she’s wearing war paint and brandishing a sacred tomahawk and knife that the spirit who possesses her has just made rise from the the earth, well sir, it just becomes that much cooler.
The shaman who revived Zoe informs her that the vengeful spirit inside her is mighty but her flesh won’t sustain for much longer, leading to wonderful shots of large gaping wounds filled with maggots. She takes to discarding unneeded innards, filling her body with earth and mending herself with duct tape so that she can remain intact to exact her revenge.
Avenged is relentlessly entertaining and brutal as fuck. The love story between Dane and Zoe is poignant ant there are a ton of “holy shit” moments. The tonal shift is slightly jarring at first, but once you accept the film as a (very) dark comedy; the ride becomes a lot smoother. And Amanda Adrienne is incredible. Her character goes from totally vulnerable to completely kick-ass, and she’s entirely believable every step of the way.
Docked a half a point for some CGI blood spatter and a few less than laudable performances but otherwise highly recommended.
***1/2 (out of five)