Written and directed by Matthew A. Brown
Screened at Grimmfest 2014
Surviving after being brutally gang raped, nurse Julia Shames signs up to a radical, unorthadox thearapy ran by a mysterious but powerful Dr. Sgundud. With help from Sadie, one of Sgundud’s “clients”, Julia becomes empowered as a woman and takes back her life as she gets revenge on the male species but is forbidden from seeking retribution against the culprits who actually harmed her.
If American Mary and I Spit On Your Grave were to get it on, Julia would be the outcome. Written and directed by Matthew A. Brown, JULIA tells the story of a fragile, shy young woman who’s mentally destroyed and physically abused by the opposite sex and is forced to rebuild her life and become a new, improved version of her former self. This new Julia involves becoming much more sexualised than she was before, becoming assertive to the point of seducing men just to humiliate them, abuse them and even assault them. Guided by her mentor Sadie, Julia thrives off her new confident persona and begins to live life to the full, but it isn’t long before this new life runs away with her. Tasting blood, Julia wants more…
Ashley C. Williams (The Human Centipede: First Sequence) stars as titular character Julia, playing the young woman as a timid mouse who eventually evolves into a fearsome predator. She’s joined by Tahyna Tozzi (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) who oozes sensuality as Sadie, who promises Julia a life of hope and prospects, a life in which fear does not exist. Sadie is very much street-wise and flaunts her sexuality and uses it to lure the opposite sex. Julia initally has problems mimicking Sadie’s seductive charms but with a bit of coaching, Julia flourishes into a vamp of her own. Jack Noseworthy (Event Horizon) stars as the mysterious Dr. Sgundud, who rescues Julia from the depths of despair and brings new meaning to her life, but not without consequence should she disobey his strict rules.
Though aesthetically pleasing, the narrative of JULIA descends from a revenge thriller into a misandrist one, depicting all men as bastards who are out to rape women or at least use them for sex. As a woman, it made me a bit uncomfortable how the film played out and my male colleagues unsurprisingly felt the same way. Though Julia’s descent into revenge ends up spilling over to anyone and everyone as she spirals out of control from the trauma she’s suffered, some of which is approved of as part of the therapy, I can’t help feeling it’d have been better if she had just purely seeked revenge against the men who wronged her. When it starts going over the top like depicted in this movie, it becomes questionable to watch from both sexes.
Without doubt a beautifully shot film with a great score and solid performances, JULIA is much like its titular character: nice to look at but increasingly unhinged as time wears on. Despite its pitfalls, it’s a promising start to writer and director Matthew A. Brown’s feature film career, and I look forward to his future work.