Review: JULIA

juliaStarring THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE‘s Ashley C. Williams as the film’s title character, JULIA, Matthew A. Brown’s film follows a young, soft-spoken plastic surgeon’s assistant who very early on in the film, falls victim to a group of men gang-raping her. Left for dead, Julia slowly makes her way back home, and does her best to resume her life, but finds it impossible to do so. Too embarrassed to tell the police or a hospital, she begins to find solace in cutting herself and drinking alone at a nearby bar. A few visits in, Julia overhears a group of women discussing an intense form of therapy for rape, and when Julia approaches the about it, she begins one intense and very gripping descent into a life full of vengeance and self-empowerment that you don’t find in a lot of the films dealing with revenge after sexual assault.

Taking part in the experimental and very hush hush therapy, Julia is trained to pick up on sleazy men and proceed to destroy their lives (and other parts of them), with the insistence that it “never becomes personal”. As the film goes on, and Julia finds herself through the various means of revenge on various men, her self-empowerment and identity finally come into their own, but as she becomes more and more capable, she’s faced with the choice of continuing the therapy she’s knee deep in, or if she would rather go after the men who raped her and suffer whatever consequences that decision may lead to.

It’s very clear from the opening scene that JULIA is no I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. As completely entertaining and infamous as those films are, there’s a lack of all things exploitation in JULIA that makes it stand so firmly on its own two feet, creating a story that while it may seem faintly familiar, never seems like a copy of anything whatsoever. Though comparisons to The Soska sister’s AMERICAN MARY may come up, due to the combination of an element of rape revenge and the medical field, any similarities to any other film begins and ends right there, as JULIA seems like a breath of fresh and original air, injected into the horror/thriller genre.

Standing out so impressively in the film is Ashley C. Williams and Julia. She plays the title character with a softness and subtlety that is a stark contrast to the caricatures that a lot of films falling into the revenge category seem to offer up. It’s hard to remember a performance as brave and committed as that of Williams as Julia. Her performance reels you in from the very first time she’s on screen, making it impossible to not only sympathize with her, but to genuinely care for her characters. As she begins to lose her grip on herself and the therapy that seems to be working quite well, you hope that she comes out of everything in one piece, as her performance is one of the most sympathetic ones in any recent genre films. A true testament to her abilities as an actress, when Julia is committing some painfully graphic revenge on various men, you don’t feel sorry for them for a single second, your thoughts and concerns stay completely fixed on William’s brilliant and powerful performance.

So carefully filled with emotion and visually stunning cinematography, JULIA is a film that will no doubt be one that will have genre fans talking for a good while.

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