Dirty Weekend (UK 1992)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/24/16
Director: Michael Winner
Cast: Lia Williams, Rufus Sewell

"This is the story of Bella, who woke up one morning and realized she'd had enough."

A mean, nasty, and unsettling misogynistic thriller in the vein of "Death Wish" (also directed by Michael Winner), with a dark sense of humor. Bella (Lia Williams) is a meek secretary whose slimeball boyfriend just dumped her. She packs up her things and moves out of town, only to find herself the target of a violent and mentally disturbed stalker (creepy Rufus Sewell). The police refuse to help, and one of the detectives even tries to rape her while checking out the security in her place. Emotionally exhausted and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, she visits an Iranian fortune teller named Nimrod who awakens her desire for revenge and gives her a switchblade. "You are either a murderer or a victim. The choice is yours." Armed with the knowledge of endless possibilities, she turns the tables on her stalker and decides to murder him in his own home. The thrill of the kill liberates Bella's tortured mind and incites her to continue her killing spree by taking out any other male vermin who cross her path (which is pretty much everyone). Her encounters become increasingly ridiculous, and even her dentist turns out to be a psychotic rapist. The absurd climax pits Bella against a crazed serial killer who just happens to be hanging out in the exact same place as she is. Naturally, he tries to rape her as well. It's a good thing she still has that knife...

While it's not a gory or graphically explicit film, it certainly is unpleasant to watch. Lia Williams is wonderful as the sweet and shy Bella, who slowly transforms into a sexually charged, man-hating, killing machine. The combination of raw hatred and fierce sexual energy finally grants her the strength to overpower her male oppressors, and she delights in her newfound power. She also picks up an illegal handgun for self defense, which she caresses with sexual longing. No subtle symbolism there... The men in the film are completely despicable, and the harsh misogynistic dialog is the most difficult aspect of the film to endure. The biggest drawback to the "rape and revenge" formula is that you have to get through the rape in order to get to the revenge, and sometimes that's too hard to stomach. In this case, most of the abuse is verbal, but that doesn't make it any less awful. The quirky music score has a classically upbeat and cheerful tone, which deliberately contradicts the violence and ugliness of the setting and makes the viewer feel uneasy. Perhaps it reflects Bella's state of mind when she finally snaps? It's a low budget affair that will only appeal to a niche audience that can appreciate its mix of sexual violence, humiliation, and black humor.