Everyone deals with shock and betrayal in their own way. In Violation we see how certain trauma can affect a woman and push her to the edge. Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer who also co-writes and co-directs the film) is having issues in her marriage. Things with her husband Caleb (Obi Abili) are deteriorating and have been for a while. Miriam and Caleb decide that maybe a trip to her hometown will get them back on track. Miriam’s sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and her husband Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) live there and Miriam is long overdue for a visit. Dylan and Miriam have always been close – they have this level of understanding, a special bond.
The visit has its ups and downs. The distance between Miriam and Caleb seems to be unwavering. When they are in the company of others they can laugh and enjoy themselves. It’s those moments alone where the chasm between them can’t be ignored. Miriam spends most of her time alone with either Greta or Dylan. There is a layer of resentment between the sisters that pokes out at times. Everyone seems to know that is it there, but it’s the elephant in the room. One evening Miriam and Dylan are the only ones left at the fire. Miriam opens up and is vulnerable with Dylan, who ends up taking advantage of the situation and her vulnerability. Miriam feels angry and betrayed by Dylan and Greta. She feels her only recourse is revenge – regardless of what it may do to her.
Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer both wrote and directed the film together. Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer were incredibly successful at making the audience feel uncomfortable for much of Violation. Angst can tear someone up inside, completely spiraling them out of control. Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer convey these feelings within Miriam through their use of camera angles and affects as well as music. This sense of disorientation and turmoil is apparent in shots throughout the film. Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer implement inverse shots, blurriness, zooming, and distortion multiple times during the runtime. At some points it may be a bit of an overkill – but the imagery is powerful, and the music perfectly compliments the intensity of the scenes. From eerie and ominous noises to intense classical and gothic scores, we are able to feel the emotions from the music.
The main issue for Violation is the lack of character development and backstory to truly connect with Miriam. We are shocked and horrified about her predicament, but there is not that deeper connection. Interactions and mentions of the past occur throughout the film, but these do not serve to build enough of a foundation for us to truly connect with the characters. Violation has a limited cast, with a vast majority of the film only touching upon the four characters mentioned. These interactions also only occur in a few settings for the film. The audience is given the chance to truly focus on the dialogue and characters that are present. However, Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer do not capitalize on this and bonds with the audience and characters are not fully formed.
Mancinelli and Sims-Fewer weave flashbacks into the narrative to try and paint the entire picture of what Miriam is going through. Unfortunately, this leads to the narrative being choppy at times. It can be confusing exactly where and when things are happening, and the film doesn’t flow smoothly. This becomes clearer as the film progresses but is an issue for a good portion of the runtime. Violation is far from a perfect film, but it is a powerful one. There are certain scenes that will be burned in my memory for quite some time. There are numerous scenes of a very adult nature that many may find disturbing. Violation’s imagery and story make it worth a watch and overshadow any deficiencies that are present. Just mentally prepare yourself for some unpleasantness, Violation is certainly not a happy-go-lucky cinematic experience.
Violation will be available exclusively on Shudder March 25th.