With Revenge landing on limited edition Blu-ray, we chat to its director about the film finally getting a special edition physical media release.
The slow, inexorable move towards a disc-free future, one where physical media and delivery of films and TV programming are only through digital files, is leaving behind some unfortunate victims.
Films are going straight to digital, eschewing the traditional release model and bypassing a physical release all together, heading straight to your favourite digital retailer. Big studios are only deeming certain titles worthy of Blu-ray release, avoiding the more costly, better quality high definition format in favour of just putting the film on DVD. And these DVDs are often vanilla or near-vanilla discs, devoid of the extras that used to fill up disc-based, physical formats.
And as this happens, so the chance of viewing additional features, value-added-material, extras, slowly dissipates. Sure, digital retailers might have one or two options and exclusive bits, but this tends to resemble an electronic press kit (EPK), all positive clips that can be used by broadcasters to promote the film. It’s not created specifically for the physical release. The juicy material, the exhaustive, film-school-in-a-box idea that was pioneered by double-disc DVDs and later Blu-rays, is falling by the wayside. A straight to digital release is unlikely to get too much additional material, a direct to DVD (DTV) that’ll end up on supermarket shelves retailing for less than a tenner equally so.
And that’s just distribution, never mind production. Imagine the scenario for, say, a first-time filmmaker and lower budget genre films. They’re so concerned about having enough money to, you know, actually complete the film (and in some cases, merely start it), that the idea of additional material being filmed alongside the feature doesn’t even enter into the equation.
Take Coralie Fargeat, a director making her feature length debut with Revenge, a film completed in 2017.
“When it’s a first feature,” she explains, “the producer doesn’t really think about the extras. There’s not enough money for the film, [extras for home entertainment release] are not usually where you think you should put the money.”
The director, speaking from her Paris home during the lockdown, adds: “I love to watch the bonus features so much. It gets you in to the movie in another way. You can get a real analysis of the film from different people. It’s so important to keep the history of how a film made, who worked on the movie, what they did. It’s a great way to focus on the movie, the crew, the DOP… Great way to focus on the movie, the crew, the DOP…
“All these people have a major role in the way the movie is, so it’s great to be able to have their voice on the disc and to hear about their process.”
Fargeat and her stunning first film Revenge have now been given the chance to do just this courtesy of UK independent Second Sight. The label is one of a clutch of indie distributors who are looking to give the kind of treatment usually reserved for classic, catalogue titles, to newer films, lesser-known titles.
At a time when some distributors are cutting back on disc releases (“you don’t know how long we spent discussing whether we should have four colours or just one colour printed on a disc,” one major studio executive said recently), it’s good to see companies such as Second Sight going in for a second bite of the cherry and bestowing status on to more recent films that sit snugly alongside older, classic cult titles in its catalogue. Successes so far have included Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade, Iranian horror flick Under The Shadows and Anna And The Apocalypse.
All had received single-disc DVD releases, from either studios or independent distributors, the latter from companies working more on new releases rather than extras-laden double disc sets.
As Second Sight’s Chris Holden says: “with VOD becoming the focus for many distributors we saw an opportunity to start picking up physical rights on more recent productions. We have traditionally been associated with older library titles but for us this is a natural progression in a changing market. The titles we are picking up would always fit in the Second Sight catalogue but we’d usually be acquiring them some years down the line. We are now looking to explore titles that have had earned instant cult status with releases such as Upgrade and Anna And The Apocalypse.”
Latest on the block is Revenge. It has all the right credentials – a strong look and feel, great word of mouth from genre fans (it made its debut on these shores at FrightFest) and some critical acclaim behind it too.
For Fargeat, it’s great news and, as she says, helps extend the life of the film. “It’s kind of crazy, I feel extremely lucky that the film had such a long life.
“And it’s great to have a new vision of the film.”
The new vision includes a raft of specially created extras, including interviews and more with the cast and crew, a commentary from author and editor of Diabolique Kat Ellinger, a booklet with essays from critics and even new specially commissioned artwork. It puts a genre film that might otherwise have got lost on something of a pedestal, and it’s no more than the film deserves.
“It was made not just to be a disposable film,” says Fargeat. “It’s great, people are now able to watch it and rewatch it and rewatch it with everything that has been said.
“That’s why you do what you do as a director – you hope what you create is going to stay with people one way or another.”
For Fargeat, the film is now enjoying its own life away from her, its reputation growing separately from her work as a director.
“It’s a strange process – you do the movie, if it’s successful you go all around the world, talking about it in every festival, for almost two years. At some point you want to move on and be able to work on the next film.
“All the press, the international releases, it’s very hard to start to create another world, another film. But now I’m able to look at Revenge again, and talk about it, I have some distance from it. The film is now with the audience. It can lead its own life. The film doesn’t belong to you any more, once it’s released, From then on it’s out of your hands. It’s not yours any more, you let go, that’s a great moment.”
She’s happy to chat about the film still, discussing not just the reaction to the release, but the story itself, her intention to avoid the pitfalls of genre fare and how she wanted to tell a straight up revenge tale, rather than rape revenge (hence the avoidance of showing the brutal crime that leads to Jen – Matilda Lutz – rising like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes and getting her own back on the men who attacked her).
Meanwhile, Fargeat is on to her next project. She won’t reveal too much, as the funding is falling into place and she doesn’t want to jinx it, although there are hints: “It’s still going to be genre film, but in a very different way from Revenge. It’s going to push boundaries with a different kind of violence…”
She’s hoping to start next year, current conditions willing (“It’s very strange, this crisis has changed so much – it’s still weird to resume with our old projects as if nothing has happened”).
Revenge will live on and, judging by the social media word of mouth, its reputation will only grow. And in glorious physical form too. “I love to watch the bonus features so much,” concludes Fargeat.
Revenge Limited Edition Blu-ray is available now.
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