Vengeance is the brainchild of B.J. Novak (from The Office). This was Novak’s first directorial film while he also wrote and starred. Produced by Blumhouse, Vengeance definitely had that independent film feel to it.

Ben Manalowitz (B.J. Novak) was a journalist and podcaster who had spent much of his recent time meeting and hooking up with several women, looking for nothing serious, nothing life altering. When he received a mysterious phone call in the middle of the night telling him that his “girlfriend,” Abby (Lio Tipton), had died, Ben was confused. He did not remember the woman, but the tearful story from her brother Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook) compelled him to go to her funeral in Texas.

After the surreal experience at the funeral, Ty told Ben that he wanted his help. Ty did not believe that his sister had overdosed, as the reports of her death indicated, and that he believed someone had killed her. He begged Ben to stay and help him gain vengeance for Abby. Sensing an opportunity, Ben decided to tell the story of Abby on a podcast and he would investigate the death and try and find out the truth.

Abby’s eccentric family took Ben in and tried to walk him through the culture of Texas, something that he had a difficult time adjusting to. The family included Abby’s mother Sharon (J. Smith-Cameron), her sisters Kansas City (Dove Cameron) and Paris (Isabella Amara), her brother Mason (Elli Abrams Bickel) and blunt grandmother Granny (Louanne Stephens).

The mystery of what happened to Abby deepened as the film progressed, all to the thrill of Ben’s podcast producer Eloise (Issa Rae).

I was looking through the Vudu new releases for something to watch today when I came across this movie. It sounded interesting and so I rented it. I am very glad I did. I loved this movie. I was completely engaged from the moment that the phone call from Ty woke Ben up in the middle of the night with an odd message. The mystery has several great twists and kept me guessing about what had happened to Abby. The script of the film was wonderfully written and took the story of the film in a direction to try and look at the problems of a divided America.

B.J. Novak does a excellent job carrying the narrative, but the eccentric characters from this small little Texas town really brought this to life. Like Twin Peaks, the surrounding characters helped make the tale special. Ashton Kutcher and John Mayer had roles in the film as well.

I loved the resolution as well. No spoilers obviously, but it was an extremely satisfying end to the movie.

Vengeance is one of those films that most people will miss, but it is well worth your time to watch for it when it comes available to see.

4.3 stars

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