It’s been said that “he who seeks revenge digs two graves,” meaning that those who go out looking for vengeance will lose themselves along the way. It argues that revenge is a fool’s errand, as bloodshed can only lead to more bloodshed and death. While it is easy to say “live and let go,” sometimes some characters are so evil that they need to be put in the ground.
While revenge stories exist in all genres, horror movies, in particular, love the trope; whether it is someone left for dead, unforgivably wronged, or forced to witness the death of a loved one, these movies follow their protagonist as they hunt down their tormentors one by one. There is no place for morality in the following movies, as the villains truly deserve what is coming to them, and the heroes are justified in exacting their revenge.
1 ‘Mandy’ (2018)
Lumberjack Red (Nicolas Cage) lives a peaceful existence in a remote house in the woods with his beloved wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). That peace is shattered when a bizarre cult arrives and murders Mandy, causing Red to embark on a crusade of vengeance as he hunts down those responsible in this great modern midnight movie.
Red is perfectly justified in pursuing revenge, as Mandy was an innocent victim murdered by a pack of bloodthirsty maniacs. It is clear that Red’s life revolves around her, so it is understandable that he falls into such a state of vengeful despair, perfectly captured in a terrific scene where Cage screams out his pain in the bathroom.
2 ‘I Saw the Devil’ (2010)
After his fiancée becomes the latest victim of a savage serial killer, secret agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) hunts down the man responsible. Rather than granting him a swift death, Soo-hyun subjects the despicable Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) to a series of cat-and-mouse chases as he forces the same terror his victims felt upon him.
While I Saw the Devil does ponder whether Soo-hyun is just as bad as Kyung-chul by the movie’s end, he is more than vindicated by his brutal acts as Kyung-chul is an evil man deserving of suffering. The only thing that Soo-hyun does wrong is not killing Kyung-chul outright, as his prolonged games result in the death of several more innocents at the hands of Kyung-chul in one of South Korea’s most disturbing movies.
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3 ‘Revenge’ (2017)
When Jen (Matilda Lutz) travels with her boyfriend to his remote luxury vacation house, she expects a relaxing weekend by the pool. But when her partner’s perverted friends arrive, she is assaulted and left for dead to cover up their crimes. Instead, she survives her savage attack and seeks vengeance.
With a name like Revenge, it is clear what the movie entails, and the film lives up to its title as Jen enacts bloody carnage on her tormentors. Jen transforms greatly throughout her ordeal, with Lutz offering a fantastic performance as her character goes from victim to warrior, wounded survivor to justified killer.
4 ‘Tormented’ (2009)
Faced with constant bullying at school, outcast Darren decides to take his own life. His spirit does not stay dead, however, as his ghost comes back to kill those who made his life a living hell. When A-grade student Justine (Tuppence Middleton) finds herself accepted into the popular group, she is soon added to the list of targets.
A British take on the slasher-comedy genre, Tormented is best described as a combination of Sex Education and Scream. While it never reaches the heights of the best slasher movies in the genre, it is still a fun and gory good time and features a few recognizable faces, such as The Umbrella Academy‘s Tom Hopper.
5 ‘Carrie’ (1976)
Teenager Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is often ridiculed at school, owed to her status as an outcast and her overly religious mother. When an act of kindness seemingly sees Carrie finally earning acceptance from her peers, it kicks into motion a cruel prank that will ultimately end in tragedy in one of the best horror movies of the 1970s.
One of the most famous tales of revenge, Carrie only showcases its revenge plot in its closing moments. As Carrie rips apart her prom school dance after being doused in pig’s blood, she uses her telekinetic powers to kill those responsible. While innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire, those who took part in the prank certainly got what was coming to them.
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6 ‘The Toxic Avenger’ (1984)
Working as a janitor at a health club, nerdy Melvin is often bullied by the customers. When a cruel prank results in Melvin falling into a vat of toxic waste, he is transformed into a hulking mutant. Armed with superhuman strength, Melvin becomes a vigilante as he gruesomely murders criminals and those who tormented him.
A cult classic from Troma Entertainment, The Toxic Avenger perfectly combines ’80s camp, gory practical effects, and superhero tropes to create an unforgettable experience. While it is noticeably low-budget and a product of its era, the movie is a must-watch for anyone who loves splatter films.
7 ‘Piggy’ (2022)
Overweight teenager Sara is routinely ridiculed by her peers for her appearance, but after a particularly harrowing prank, she witnesses the girls who bully her being abducted. As the man responsible lets Sara go, she refuses to tell the authorities what she witnessed, becoming an accomplice to the girl’s potential murder.
Piggy is a unique revenge movie in that the one who has been wronged is not the one doing the killing. Instead, Sara finds someone willing to take out her bullies for her, and while she struggles with the guilt of her actions, it is hard not to argue that the cruel teenagers deserved their fate.
8 ‘Sissy’ (2022)
When wellness influencer Cecilia bumps into her childhood best friend Emma one day, Emma invites her to a bachelorette party. Arriving at a remote house in the woods, Cecilia soon meets Emma’s new friends, which include Cecilia’s old bully Alex. As past wounds open, new ones are carved out as the weekend descends into bloodshed.
One of the best slasher movies from 2022, Sissy is an instant classic from Australia. Cecilia makes for a compelling character thanks to a terrific performance from Aisha Dee, and as the clearly unwell woman finds herself in a bloody spiral, it is hard not to root for her even as the bodies begin piling up.
9 ‘The Last House on the Left’ (1972)
Teenage friends Mari and Phyllis road trip to the city to attend a concert but are instead abducted by a gang of escaped convicts. The criminals torture and murder the girls before taking refuge at a nearby house by posing as salesmen. Unknown to the killers, they are in the home of one of the girls they just murdered, and after they find out what happened to their daughter, they subject their new guests to a night of terror.
The debut of horror legend Wes Craven, The Last House on the Left is one of the most famous “video nasties.” Filled with disturbing content, the movie makes for a hard watch, but it ultimately becomes satisfying as Mr. and Mrs. Collingwood enact their bloody revenge.
10 ‘Becky’ (2020)
Forced to attend a weekend away with her father and his new girlfriend, 13-year-old Becky (Lulu Wilson) soon finds her trip getting even worse after the family is confronted by a gang of Neo-Nazis. As the escaped criminals, led by Kevin James in an against-type role, torment the family, Becky begins to turn the tables on her pursuers.
Becky is one of the most enjoyable horror movies of the past few years, carried by a strong performance from Wilson and a penchant for bloody violence. While Becky starts as a brat, she becomes more likable as she begins picking off the criminals one by one, showcasing a warrior’s spirit as she fights to free her family.
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