I'm not a big fan of basic revenge thrillers like Death Wish or (duh) Revenge. To me, the equation of [ Anguish + Revenge = Cheering ] seems simplistic at best, and creepy at worst. I do, however, love a revenge thriller that actually has something to say about the nature of the act. Because let's face it: Revenge is one of the most fascinating story points out there. We all have loved ones. We're all protective to some degree. And we're all capable of a fury that can unleash itself only in violent ways. Like I said, revenge is pretty fascinating. Try the recent Australian import The Horseman or the surprisingly dark Death Sentence for example: these are films that deliver "cathartic" violence on the surface -- but also provide deep wells of thought just below.
Feel free to add the French-Canadian import 7 Days to that list of high-quality revenge flicks, because while it's a remarkably harsh and brutal film, it's also very smart, very engrossing, and very insightful. Fair warning, though: The film deals with the rape and murder of a small child ... plus it doles out some sequences of torture that make Saw look like kid's stuff. (I've made that comparison before, but 7 Days is not a "squeal, squirm and have fun" sort of horror flick like the Saw movies are.)
7 Days is the story of three men, essentially: One is doctor, one is a detective, and one is a devil. The doctor's little girl is savagely murdered in a park near her home, the detective tracks down the devil ... and then the doctor kidnaps the devil and chains him up in an isolated cabin while the detective tries to locate the pair.
Obviously the grief-stricken doctor has some rather unpleasant plans for the man chained in the basement, but like I said at the beginning, 7 Days is not just a simplistic tale of getting even. The detective, in particular, lends a very interesting perspective to the story, while the audience goes from cheering the doc's vengeance to worrying for a good man's soul. The irredeemable villain goes from denial to apologies to ... desperation.
It's a crisp and well-lensed thriller, to be sure, but 7 Days is much more of an exercise than an entertainment. Like most brave thrillers that delve into very dark places, 7 Days is not so much "fun" as it is fascinating. The three leads (Claude Legault as the doctor, Remy Girard as the detective, Martin Dubreuil as the devil) are nothing short of captivating, the dark but smart screenplay by Patrick Senecal (adapting his own novel) works as both a thriller and a tragedy, and the confident direction by Daniel Grou keeps the emotion as intense as the physical violence. And that's saying a lot.