X: Night Of Vengeance

Day. A mysterious, beautiful woman drives through the streets saying random things in French, a knowing smile on her lips. “Garcon! Un café s’il vous plait”. She stops to pick up a young man. “Bonjour, Giles”. “I’m going to miss you, Holly”. She smiles knowingly. “In case you get lost”, he says, handing her a street map of Paris. “Maybe I want to”.

Cut to a bright, well-to-do living room. “As you can see, Giles is a real peach” Holly is telling a gathering of desperate housewives as the camera pans, rather incongruously, past Giles’s scrotum. Before long the pair of them are down on the shag-pile doing moany sex noises as the ladies sip champagne and cross their legs a lot. Eventually, Giles stands up, eyes closed, a look of deep concentration on his face. “Uuugh!” he says. “Uuuuugh! UUUUUGGHH!” – a load of splattery graphics hit the screen: X: NIGHT OF VENGEANCE, they announce. The message is clear. This film…. is JIZZ.

Holly (the impressively stoic Viva Bianca), an experienced escort working the high-end of Sydney’s boutique hotels, has her bags packed and her ticket to Paris booked. All she has to do is get through one last night on the job and it’s goodbye sinister bent copper boyfriend; goodbye the shame of selling her downstairs down under; hello the shame of realising it hasn’t been acceptable to summon a waiter with the term ‘Garcon’ in Paris since 1956. Unfortunately, the success of the last job, a blonde/brunette duo, is jeopardised when her co-worker slips in the shower while giving herself a soapy tit massage in front of her own Yorkshire Terrier. Holly needs a brunette and she needs one fast.

Enter Shay (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence), a beautiful teenage runaway who is trying to survive her first night on the streets and who’s only experience of prostitution so far has been wanking an old man off so hard he cums his car into the side of a skip. Problem solved, thinks Holly. But things take a turn for the worse when the women are witness to the murder of their drug-dealing client by Bent Copper 2 – not the sinister boyfriend one this time, a scary-eyed, woman-hating, psycho-killer one. Oh yes. They’re in trouble now.

This thing was co-written by director Jon Hewitt and his partner Belinda McClory. “As a woman,” McClory explains in the special features portion of the DVD, “it’s important to me to create strong female characters on screen,” Yeah, and then kick the shit out of them for an hour and a half. The trick the pair have tried to pull off here is the one where you install some bullshit, pseudo-feminist sub-text, and then use it as a rationalisation to bombard the audience with images of extreme female degradation. Frankly, the lurid, violent, show-us-yer-tits-darlin, ‘hunt’n’kill the hookers’ lurch through the neon-lit back streets of Sydney that makes up the rest of this self-proclaimed cum-splash of a movie left me wondering if I didn’t require a couple of tetanus jabs to the eyes.

Come to think of it, none of the characters in X: NIGHT OF VENGEANCE actually appears to be seeking vengeance on anyone, so exactly whose vengeance is being meted out here, and to whom? The most likely answer is a sort of general misogynistic vengeance against women. Their secretive vaginas, after all, do indicate they have something to hide, and therefore they are hateful – as Bent Copper 2 helpfully explains before punching Holly several times in the face (you see how when you put the violence into some kind of gender-political context beforehand, it makes it OK to sit back and just enjoy it?). At the end of the day, relentlessly and explicitly showing the exploitation of women is not to make a feminist statement about the exploitation of women. The filmmakers know this full well, and the inherent hypocrisy is degrading to us all. Avoid.

By Andrew Burt

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