This fall, school is back in session, and a brand-new take on the high school dark comedy is about to rule the metaphorical halls of Netflix. On September 16, Stranger Things‘ Maya Hawke and Riverdale’s Camila Mendes will be taking over their school, and taking revenge, in the ’80s and ’90s-inspired coming-of-age romp Do Revenge. In an interview with Elle, director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson breaks down the inspiration behind her sophomore feature film and talks themes, wardrobe, and their incredible heavy-hitter cast.
Do Revenge is a dark comedy that finds two unlikely Miami highschoolers, the queen bee Drea (Mendes) and transfer student Eleanor (Hawke), uniting together with a common goal: revenge. When Drea’s “golden boy” boyfriend Max, played by Euphoria‘s Austin Abrams, leaks Drea’s private sex tape, and a girl starts a vicious rumor about Eleanor, essentially outing her to the entire school, the two now harbor a shared thirst for vengeance. When they unexpectedly run into one another, the girls devise a plan to punish each other’s offenders. In an attempt to “…make something that paints with all the colors of adolescence,” no one in the film is a black-and-white villain or hero. According to the director, Do Revenge will leave audiences hard-pressed for someone to cheer for or hate, and will question what being a “bad person” really means.
In anticipation of the upcoming release, Netflix has released first-look photos to drum up excitement in Do Revenge. The newly released photos show Mendes and Hawke dressed to kill in some of Morshead’s work, as well as growing closer in their schemes.
For director and co-writer Robinson, the aesthetic for Do Revenge is deconstruction, but also “unapologetically pop-y.” Name-checking iconic films like 1999’s Cruel Intentions and Jawbreaker, she and producer Peter Cron (American Ultra) “…backwards-engineered this story of revenge off of: What would it be like to take the fun, thrillery stakes of a Hitchcock movie and put it in high school?” While the movie is expected to be fun and as funny as Robinson’s previous films, it will also acknowledge heavier themes like bullying and accountability for one’s self. Suggesting that not all is as it seems in the film, Robinson cryptically says, “Whatever you think this movie is, it’s that, but it’s also different.”
“There is the comment on, not necessarily cancel culture, but accountability versus the way that we tear people down without the right information potentially, and the way that we lift people up without the right information potentially. And then on the other side of that, it’s also [about] the way in which we deal with trauma. So, focusing on what happens and how it happens and why it happens and then how we deal with it.”
In keeping with those John Hughes and late ’90s vibes, the wardrobe will be as much a character as Drea and Eleanor. Helmed by costume designer Alana Morshead (After), the Miami locals will be dripping from head to toe in sequins, pastels and feathers, recalling culture-defining high school flicks like The Heathers and Clueless. Aiming to “…create a look that both feels nostalgic, but also doesn’t exist…” Morshead custom designed most of the wardrobe to give classic a modern spin.
The cast is just as sparkling as the unique costume designs, boasting a slate of young breakout stars like Euphoria‘s Abrams. “We joke that they are like, the young Hollywood Avengers,” Robinson said after co-writing the MCU‘s most recent Phase 4 film Thor: Love and Thunder with director Taika Waititi. “They call themselves ‘The Revengers,’ which we love.” She goes on to say that these familiar faces are more than modern Hollywood royalty, but that they’re all extremely talented and were meant for these Do Revenge parts. The crew so believed in the chosen cast members that six weeks prior to filming, they pushed production from L.A. to Atlanta in order to allow for Hawke‘s commitments to her other Netflix gig Stranger Things. Though co-writer Celeste Ballard (Space Jam: A New Legacy) and Robinson wrote the script with nobody in mind, the auditions proved the film belonged to these two leads.
Robinson on what she hopes audiences get from Do Revenge:
“We want you to have a great fucking time. That’s what this is. That’s what it should be. We’re not trying to solve world peace. This is not some big political statement. It’s just a really fun movie that looks cool and stars a bunch of really excellent actors who are at the top of their craft, and are also just gorgeous.”
Do Revenge is director Robinson‘s second feature film after 2019’s Netflix movie Someone Great starring Gina Rodriguez, DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow. It is produced by Robinson, Cron, Anthony Bregman, and executive produced by Matt Levin and Joshua Bachove.
The film also stars Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner, Rish Shah who plays Kamran in the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel as Russ Lee, Outer Banks‘ Jonathan Daviss as Elliott, Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why) as Drea’s “try-hard woke ally” best friend Tara, Cassady McClincy (The Walking Dead) as Ashlyn, Paris Berelc, Talia Ryder (West Side Story) as Gabbi, Eliza Bennett as Jessica and more.
Do Revenge will be available to stream on Netflix on September 16. Check out the stills from Netflix below: