Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson manages to recreate the nostalgia of 90s teen dramas, effectively enough for it to be a hoot in the first half, and a Camila Mendes show in the second

Have you ever wanted to absolutely annihilate someone who has done you wrong? An ex-boyfriend? A bully? Have you thought about how to totally derail their life, but stop short of actually doing it because, well, society has certain codes we have to abide by? In Netflix’s dark comedy, Do Revenge, those norms go out the window. Instead, viewers are in for two hours of chaotic pleasure that feels very much so like a cathartic, primal scream.

Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and rife with tributes to 90s and 2000s teen cult classics like Clueless and Mean Girls, Do Revenge follows Drea (Camila Mendes), the queen bee at an elite high school, who falls from grace after her I-run-this-school boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams) leaks a nude video of her to the entire school. Drea’s reaction — a swift punch across his face — lands her in trouble, while Max not only evades consequences but is praised by his peers for being so brave; satire depicted ridiculously enough for it to be funny, but real enough for you to recall the Max (a misogynistic, narcissistic, manipulator) in your life.

Drea meets Eleanor (played by Maya Hawke) at tennis camp, and the two quickly bond over their deep hatred for the people that ruined their lives: Max for Drea and Carissa, another student, for Eleanor, who she claims outed her and painted her as a predator when they were younger. The two decide to hatch a plan to destroy each other’s arch nemesis... to ‘do revenge.’ Following a Clueless-esque makeover, Eleanor swiftly infiltrates Max’s group, while Drea expertly finds Carissa’s weakness, and even brings her down in a hallucinating scene that involves drugging the entire senior class.

Do Revenge

Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson

Cast: Camila Mendes, Maya Hawke, Austin Abrams, Rish Shah, and Sarah Michelle Gellar

Storyline: A dethroned queen bee at a posh private high school strikes a secret deal with an unassuming new student to exact revenge on each other’s enemies

But destroying Max is not as easy, as he’s “patriarchy incarnate.” The adoration he gets from his peers only amplifies his despicableness, while providing effective commentary on the ease with which men get away with anything. Eleanor has to totally immerse herself into Max’s group to reveal that he is cheating on his girlfriend with multiple women. The fiasco feels big, with Drea prancing around with a Regina George-like satisfaction, but it’s clear that the story is building to something bigger: an unnecessary plot twist that breaks the marvel of Drea and Eleanor’s chaos-driven friendship.

Here, director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson had an opportunity to move away from some of the more problematic tropes seen in old-school flicks, where women end up pitted against each other. If it wasn’t for Mendes’ ability to perfectly execute her role, with manically genuine laughs, snappy one-liners (that are begging to be turned into an out-of-context Do Revenge Twitter account) and masterful switches between heartfelt expression and sarcasm, the second half would have easily fallen flat.

The film is further supported by the incredible outfits, styled by costume designer Alana Morshead. From bright pops of fuchsia and blue and gold to picture-perfect mint and lavender pastels used in the high school’s uniform, the picture-perfect fashion only adds to the ‘everything-is-not-as-it-seems’ storyline — while also being so fun to see. And while the ending falls short, the pace remains quick and exciting, and keeps the plotline feeling spunky, with interludes of Gen-Z anthems like Brutal by Olivia Rodrigo, and So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings by Caroline Polachek.