Violation poses many, many questions with very few, if any answers. It is a complex moral and ethical maze that requires time to properly process. On the face of it there are clear decisions that are easy to take and in an ideal world would be acted on. But we don’t live in an ideal or simple world so that precludes one logical action which in turn leads to another quite logical decision and action though far more complex in justification and execution.

Sisters Miriam (Madeline Sims-Fewer) and Greta (Anna Maguire) with husband and partner Dylan (Jess LaVercombe) and Caleb (Obi Abili) respectively are meeting up for a reunion at cabin in the forest. From the start there is tension overhanging them, its palpable with their expressions, movements and language.

There’s then a shift in time – the film does that several times - and the sisters are fighting over an issue, which is clearly causing some distress. Another shift takes the viewer to Dylan and Miriam where he goes too far – in a profoundly disturbing scene - and when he is later challenged dismisses it, as does her sister when told.

The non-linear presentation of the film by co-writers and directors Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, disorientates the viewer to some extent which is entirely understandable and also places a key sequence in the middle of the film and is one of the most visually and mentally gruesome I have seen for some time.

It’s seems almost trivial to use the word spoiler in the context of this film but it has to be seen preferably without prior knowledge to be fully appreciated. The film and obviously the section in mind warrants in-depth analysis.

What Sim-Fewer and Mancinelli achieve is a remarkable film that presents everything to the viewer: it’s almost as if they are saying, well debate it. But that is the difficulty here in that there is no debate to be had about the acts there is only one correct answer.
What they present however is an understanding of why Miriam does what she does. If you draw blanks everywhere sometimes your choices are whittled down and however unsavoury they are, they are all that’s left. And that decision will most likely have an enormous cost. Which the viewer sees right at the end of the film.

Madeline Sims-Fewer is astonishing as Miriam in a very complicated role with her character mentally and physically scarred, drained yet able to call on those reserves to develop a plan of meticulous detail and calculation. The other characters are drawn as far as required and no further.

Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli’s direction and the cinematography by Adam Crosby gives the film a purgatorial air that is profoundly disturbing as they blend beautiful landscapes, close domestic set-ups and the visceral such as a dog gnawing a rabbit. There’s a feeling of dislocation that is enhanced by Andrea Boccado’s disconcerting glissando score and chilling sound design.

Violation is available now on Shudder.

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