Netflix’s ‘Do Revenge’ is an ode to the early 2000s teen genre


Kim Simms/Netflix . Kim Simms/Netflix © 2022.

DO REVENGE – (L-R) Alisha Boe as Tara and Camila Mendes as Drea in Do Revenge.

“Drea and I, we were two wounded soldiers on the battlefield of adolescence.” 

“Riverdale” star Camila Mendes and “Stranger Things” actress Maya Hawke join forces in Netflix’s latest film “Do Revenge in order to take down each other’s enemies with a perfectly twisted plan. 

Drea, played by Mendes, attends the prestigious Rosehill Academy on a scholarship with high hopes of being admitted into Yale. However, her dream falls apart overnight when the sex tape she sent her boyfriend, Max Broussard (Austin Abrams), is leaked. 

Hawke’s character, Eleanor, is more like the rest of the school’s demographic: rich, white and privileged. The pair meet at Drea’s summer job at a tennis camp and form an unlikely friendship built on their grievous pasts. As the audience comes to find out, Eleanor also has her fair share of baggage: she reveals to Drea that her childhood tormentor, Carissa (Ava Capri), just so happens to attend the same school.

So, on their first day, Drea suggests to Eleanor that they should “team up and do each other’s revenge.” They hatch a plan to expose Max for the emotional terrorist he really is and to ruin Carissa’s life for what she did to Eleanor. 

Before they can begin to do revenge, it is makeover time, because what kind of cliche teen movie would it be without one? Hawke’s character transforms from a slightly awkward tomboy to a hyperfeminine version of herself, all according to plan. Camouflage is necessary in order to infiltrate her way into Drea’s former friend group to take them down from the inside. 

Eleanor’s makeover wouldn’t be the only reference to an early 2000s classic trope: the outfits featured throughout the movie are colorful, eccentric and heavy on the plaid, a clear nod to films like “Clueless” and “Mean Girls”

Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes lead the cast of ‘Do Revenge’ on the film’s promotional poster. (Kim Simms/Netflix)

On the other end of the movie genre spectrum, there is also a short parallel to the classic slasher film “Scream.” The scene in which the characters in the 1996 movie sit around a fountain discussing the town’s murders can be seen as inspiration for when Drea and her friends sit around the fountain outside Rosehill. Though “Do Revenge” is not a slasher, it definitely had the potential to become one if the writers were brave enough.

However, the most interesting and unmistakable easter egg of them all is seen when the audience is first introduced to Eleanor at tennis camp, reading “Strangers on a Train” (1951). The original novel by Patricia Highsmith is about two men who “trade murders,” not unsimilar to Drea and Eleanor doing each other’s revenge. 

When the trailer first dropped back in August, people were stunned by the amount of stars featured. Mendes, Hawke and Abrams aside, with other cast members such as Alisha Boe, Paris Berelc, “Outer Banks”’ Jonathan Daviss, “Ms. Marvel’s” Rish Shah, and “Game of Thrones”’ Sophie Turner, there were high expectations for the film. 

Suffolk University student and avid film watcher, Bobby McPhee, expressed that he thought the casting was really great. 

“I didn’t have a lot of faith in [Mendes] because of her history with ‘Riverdale,’” McPhee said. “Surprisingly, she did a really good job playing the mean girl role while also not coming across as totally unsympathizable.”

Over the years, “Riverdale” has earned a bad reputation for its eccentricity, and though it can be argued “Do Revenge” falls short in some areas as well, still others would contend that the script is solid. 

“I think when young directors are able to incorporate modern Gen-Z language, it is very hit or miss,” said McPhee. He compared the Netflix film to another one he had watched recently, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies,” a horror comedy that compares to “Do Revenge” in contemporary dialect. 

As Drea and Eleanor continue to push the ethical and moral boundaries of being vengeful teenage girls, they also share some heartwarming moments together. In one scene, Drea tells Eleanor, “Sometimes it just hurts to exist, you know?” 

With iconic one-liners such as “Is ‘do revenge’ even, like, correct grammar?,” countless tributes to the early Y2K favorites, an incredible soundtrack, featuring Gen-Z icons MUNA and Olivia Rodrigo, and the unexpected yet undeniable chemistry between Drea and Eleanor, “Do Revenge” is sure to become a Gen-Z classic.

Follow Julie on Twitter @writerinthealps