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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Julia (2014) | Ashley C. Williams, Ryan Cooper, Tahyna Tozzi, Brad Koed, Darren Lipari, Cary Woodworth, Joel de la Fuente, Jack Noseworthy | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Julia (2014) | Ashley C. Williams, Ryan Cooper, Tahyna Tozzi, Brad Koed, Darren Lipari, Cary Woodworth, Joel de la Fuente, Jack Noseworthy | Review

Never piss off a redhead.

Mousy medical assistant Julia Shames (Ashley C. Williams) meets Piers (Ryan Cooper) at his house for a date.  Apparently, the serious, humorless Julia never got the memo that a first date should be in a public place for safety reasons.  Pity.  Or rather, a lack thereof, in her case.

There’s drugged champagne.  There are also three other guys (Brad Koed, Darren Lipari, and Cary Woodworth) a horrific rape, and a tossing of the battered, unconscious Julia by the riverside like a heap of garbage.  She does not report what happens, but spends a week recuperating, if that’s what you can call slicing away at herself with razor blades in the tub and downing full tumblers of vodka at a seedy bar.

Her extremely understanding boss Dr. Lin (Joel de la Fuente) merely wonders at her extended absences and odd behavior, but Julia is not talking.  Julia, it turns out was damaged goods even before the rape, a tormented, oft-abused victim of several tormentors going back to her childhood.  Seems she’s resigned to her fate.  Or is she?

Overhearing a conversation at the bar about a new empowerment therapy that’s (ahem) physical and effective, Julia meets Sadie (Tahyna Tozzi) a proponent of the treatment, who introduces Julia to the ever-so-polite and soothing Dr. Sgundud (Jack Noseworthy), a specialist in treating survivors of sexual assault.

The “treatment” is a series of assignments to murder men who have abused the ‘’sisterhood” of victims that comprise Dr. Sgundud’s clientele.  Julia is the lure, and knife-wielding, cloaked avengers step in for a little coitus interruptus, leaving the targeted guy unable to achieve coitus ever again.  Suddenly Julia the perpetual victim discovers the perverse satisfaction of flexing a newly discovered, vicious retribution muscle.

Sternly warned about the terrible consequences of going rogue, the empowered Julia can’t resist thoughts of payback for her own rapists.  If, as they say, revenge is a dish best served cold, Julia is a veritable iceberg.  Can she resist the urge to dish some of her own out despite dire warnings from Sadie and the (good?) Sr. Sgundud?

Ashley C. Williams (you may remember her as the unfortunate middle girl from The Human Centipede) inhabits her character with few words and quietly murderous attention, expanding Julia Shames from a name to a sentence.  She also plots, stalks, terrorizes, and filets.

In his first feature debut, writer/producer/director Matthew A. Brown (Crush) helms a stylized, brooding film, augmented with a killer (pardon the pun) soundtrack that underscores the angst.  The high production value visuals are noir-ish and sometimes nightmarish, offering a look into an urban maze of shadows, one that allows the darker side of humanity to flourish.   Brown and his leading lady show potential for future, brighter projects.

That said, there are cinematic pitfalls along the way.  Scenes can seem staged and unfold as either too slow-moving or sensationalistic.  The film is a man’s idea of what female-on-male sexual revenge looks like, featuring nudity, war-paint (makeup as an absolute necessity) and lesbian make-out sessions in the name of empowerment.

The buildup is more original than the climax, and Julia’s (d)evolution to monster from maiden becomes a little more “been there, done that” by film’s end.  Looking for redemption or salvation?  You won’t find it. Julia is never quite right and only becomes less so when blood is added to the mix, which is why you…

…never piss off a redhead.

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