The Nightingale Trailer Promises a Haunting Tale of a Woman’s Revenge
The Babadook's Jennifer Kent is back with an all new female-driven horror film.
Ever since Jennifer Kent’s stunning feature film debut, The Babadook, was released in 2014, fans have been eagerly awaiting her followup. Her sophomore effort, The Nightingale, which just released its first trailer, promises the same horror and dread as its predecessor.
The synopsis for the film reads, “Set in 1825, Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer (Sam Claflin) through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.”
While The Babadook was a contained, claustrophobic tale, The Nightingale covers more ground, literally and figuratively, with expansive shots of the Tasmanian wilderness. The film, which has played at the Venice Film Festival and Sundance, has received mostly rave reviews and some criticisms regarding the relentlessness of the film’s violence.
The Nightingale is the latest installment in a growing sub-genre: the female revenge film directed by women. A genre long dominated by men, the revenge film often features a stoic man, pushed to extremes, who enacts bloody vengeance on those who wronged him, i.e. Death Wish. When these films have a female protagonist, they often focus on a rape revenge angle. Films like I Spit on Your Grave traffic in explicit scenes of sexual violence, meant to horrify and titillate, before the female lead gets to exact revenge.
The problem with these films is that they focus on the act, rather than the woman in question, making her a passive figure in her own revenge tale. The latest spate of female-driven revenge films made by women centralize the character’s experience and trauma, and not the events that shaped them. Films like Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s A Vigilante and Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge focus on the emotional and psychological fallout that shapes their protagonists and pushes them to their limits.
And who better to delve into the psyche of a such a character than Jennifer Kent? The Babadook, in addition to being a terrifying film, was a devastating meditation on grief, trauma, and the struggles of parenting. The film’s effectiveness is thanks in no small part to Essie Davis’s electrifying performance that swings from guilt to rage to fearfulness. Davis’s characterization comes from a uniquely female perspective that sets the film apart from others like it.
Given Kent’s involvement and the moody, disturbing trailer, The Nightingale is one of the most highly anticipated horror films of 2019. We’re alternately excited and scared to see what Kent has in store for us this time.
The Nightingale hits theaters on August 2, 2019.
(via Collider, image: Bron Studios)
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