I JUST SAW… Julia (UK, 2015)


I’m finally back with another entrance in my I JUST SAW… series of reviews, where I take a look at horror movies that can be described as overlooked or unknown, but that in my opinion deserve more attention. Simply put, you can take this series as a list of random recommendation for you guys.

Julia was a blind-buy for me, the only thing I knew going in was that this was supposed to be a gritty and disturbing ‘rape and revenge’ tale. However, Julia is not quite just that.

Julia 1.jpg
Ashley C. Williams is Julia

In short, the movie opens with Julia Shames (a rather ominous name, I’d say), a shy girl who goes on a date to a colleague’s place. However, she gets drugged up by the guy, tied to a bed, and the colleague and a few of his friends – who initially were hiding from Julia – start abusing her and then dump her in the woods.

What appears to be a rather straightforward ‘rape and revenge’ flick – which, I know, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea – turns into something more complicated and deep as Julia is approached by a shady organisation, a cult if you will, that promises her empowerment and revenge.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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Julia 2.jpg
Such an iconic shot, I’d say

Also, this movie is unconventional in terms of execution and presentation: without giving too much away, the rape scene isn’t shown until halfway through the runtime, even though you know what happened to our lead girl (played by beautiful and talented Ashley C. Williams). This choice makes you, as a viewer, care about the main character even before witnessing the horror she went through: unlike most ‘rape and revenge’ exploitation flicks, Julia relies on acting and script to have you involved with the protagonist, as opposed to manipulatively basing these emotions on what appears on screen. At the same time, the rape is onscreen and rather graphic, which is a great way to make the viewer feel even more uncomfortable during the second act.

Yet, Julia is a slow-burner but never gets boring or dull thanks to the great atmosphere built throughout: due to the shallow depth of filter cinematography, combined with awesomely lit scenes with bright and headache-inducing colours, this film is really a treat to the eyes.

However, what I absolutely loved about the movie in regard to presentation was the music. The score is slowly becoming one of my favourite in modern time horror: besides the theme song (Steel Bones by Vuvuvultures, which perfectly fits the sequences it’s utilised in), the eerie soundtrack truly makes for an uneasy watching experience.

Not unlike many other ‘rape and revenge’ horror flicks (for instance, the original I Spit on Your Grave’s initial title was Day of the Woman), Julia is about female empowerment and the struggle of girls in a male world as well. Nevertheless, this message isn’t as obnoxiously obvious here as it is in many other flicks of the same sub-genre. Again, I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but it’s not just the rapists that are ‘bad guys’, the message is much more subtle and borderline here.

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The cinematography in Julia is definitely above par!

If I have to complain about some aspects of Julia, I would pinpoint the character development for sure: other the lead character, everyone else in the movie doesn’t have a character to play, they’re basically props walking on two legs.

Yet, the gore and violence in the film – aside from the sexual assault – are tame and artsy, whereas I’d have loved to see a more satisfying revenge. At the end, the revenge is the main reason why I like this sub-genre so much and here it was a bit of a let-down.

Overall, I’d absolutely recommend Julia to anyone who’s into ‘rape and revenge’ movies and dark thrillers.

Julia                            7.5/10