Sex, gratuitous violence and the relentless, misogynistic abuse of women are what’s on offer in this abhorrent Australian thriller directed by Jon Hewitt.
X: Night of Vengeance focuses on the seedy underworld of prostitution, bent coppers and drug trafficking, trampling right across the fine line which distinguishes important, unflinching filmmaking with downright voyeuristic trash. Needless to say, it emerges as dull voyeuristic trash.
Newbie prostitute Shay (Hannah Mangan Lawrence) arrives in Sydney for her first night on the job and, thanks to her long legs and come hither stare, is highly successful. This success comes at a price and quickly ends up making hers an unpopular face with the established workers. Meanwhile across town, seasoned sex worker Holly (Viva Bianca) prepares for her last job after fifteen years in the industry. The flights for Paris are booked and all that stands in between her and a fresh start is the small matter of a threesome with a drug dealing lowlife.
After a freak shower accident of a Final Destination nature leaves her without a female bed buddy, guess which naïve brunette she finds wandering the streets. Despite some of the members of the audience presumably having a lovely time watching Holly being pleasured by the dealer and a semi-naked 17 year old writhing around on a table, the job is not so cushy for the ladies themselves. A thoroughly nasty fella soon turns up and ends up shooting their “employer” stone dead. Thus ensues the killer’s brutal pursuit of the two runaway prostitutes who saw his face.
The “vengeance” of the film’s title refers largely to the woman-hating copper from hell thrusting his foot into the heads/stomachs of unsuspecting bystanders as whilst hurling a nigh on incessant stream of misogynistic abuse at Holly and Shay. He “hates f***ing women” you see.
The problem is, you get the feeling that the film does little to tackle the very serious issues at its heart and does everything in its power to make the abuse of these women, an entertaining and arousing viewing experience. Every thump undresses our bedraggled heroine further and every insult is met with more whimpering and sighing than the climax of a seedy porn film. The action soon becomes repetitive and the film soon loses any quirky intrigue it previously fostered.
The biggest plus point that the hour and a half long raunch fest has going for it is some impressive cinematography courtesy of Mark Pugh (Acolytes, Redball). Rarely has the beautiful tourist hotspot of Sydney looked so seedily magnificent. The entirety of the action takes place at night with Pugh making the most of the neon lights and dimly lit backstreets of this otherwise pleasant city. His shots make the murky filth feel tangible and does a fabulous job of adding a touch of class to proceedings.
There is always the possibility however, that we have all taken this way too seriously. Judging by the stifled guffaws of the audience at numerous points throughout X (most notably as our handcuffed heroines remember that taxi driver they randomly met is an escape artist – quick! Call him!), this film may have been more successful billing itself as a spoof named X: Night of Gargantuan Ridiculousness .