Content Warning: rape
After a violent home invasion leaves Noah (Matt Theo) in a coma and his wife Madeline (Hayley Beveridge) deeply traumatised, Noah awakens to find out that one of the attackers is still on the loose. As they try to move on with their lives, one day Madeline spots the attacker, setting them on a path for revenge in new Australian thriller RAGE.
When Madeline is attacked, she’s in the shower and is pulled to the bathroom floor by the rapist. The scene is not too explicit, but it’s clear what is happening. While a lot of the rape happens off screen, the sounds of Madeline’s cries for help are uncomfortable to hear.
RAGE is weird because while you might think Madeline and Noah are the heart of the story, but the film takes a huge step back from them while Noah is in a coma for over a month. Instead, the story follows Detective John Bennett (Richard Norton) as he tries to find Madeline and Noah’s attacker and piece together exactly what happened that night. This part is a good 30 minutes or more and it makes the pace of the film drag. Bennett isn’t an interesting cop, the case has so few leads that it doesn’t give the viewer much to speculate on – and the things Bennett does figure out have already been shown to the viewer so it’s not a surprise or interesting.
You do spend time with Madeline during Noah’s coma but as she’s become listless and practically mute, she’s just drifting through life as her parents try to support her. Considering the fact that for the majority of the film’s almost two-and-a-half-hour runtime (it does not need to be that long) Madeline is near silent, Hayley Beveridge does give a very good performance. Her trauma is palpable and the moments where she sees her attacker, whether as a figure almost haunting her or for real, she does a good job of conveying that silent fear and horror. Likewise, the times when she cautiously starts to talk again and open up to Noah are impactful, due to her performance.
The overall home invasion and then revenge plot is nothing new and there’s elements of RAGE that seem contrived. The fact that Madeline’s therapist (who she almost never speaks a word to) is Detective Bennett’s wife, feels like a breach of patient confidentially waiting to happen – and indeed when the moment is right and all hope is lost in solving the case, Mrs Bennett says something to her husband.
RAGE is pitched as a revenge thriller, but the revenge aspect really is a minor part of it. Really RAGE is a crime story that tries to give the characters the space to deal with the emotional and mental fallout of such a brutal attack. It puts Noah and Madeline’s relationship at the forefront, but as their relationship had been struggling before the attack, it’s now almost at breaking point. With Madeline you can, and do, have sympathy for her. Both because of what happened to her and the fact that Noah was drifting away from her before the attack. With Noah though, he might be mild-mannered, but he’s still a cheater who would rather sleep with a colleague than go home to his wife. He is just the personification of blah. He’s the most generic and clichéd husband I’ve seen in film in a while and we are given little reason to care about him whatsoever.
The score, composed by Kai Chen Lim, is weirdly fascinating throughout RAGE. When everything is normal for Madeline and Nate, they’re just going about their morning routine, being at work, coming home, there’s no score, just the everyday noises of cars and suchlike. It’s when the intruders come into their home that the score kicks in and then it never really stops. In some scenes the eerier music works, in others it goes far too dramatic and becomes cheesy. When Madeline and Noah see their attacker, there’s not only the back and forth between super close ups of Noah’s face as he glares at the man (Matt Theo’s performance is not great here) and the attacker, but the score aims to make it even more intense and sounds almost like a dramatic bah bah buummm – it undercuts any seriousness of the scene and just makes the whole thing ridiculous.
RAGE is predictable and often uninspired. The film drags and the fact so much of the film is following either Noah or Detective Bennett, two dull and generic characters, means that you feel every minute of the two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Hayley Beveridge is the one good thing in RAGE, but her performance cannot elevate a mediocre script.
RAGE is set for release on all major VOD platforms in North America and a Vimeo On Demand release in Australia on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021.