I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Everly, because I’ve seen director Joe Lynch’s other feature film, Knights of Badassdom, and it’s a mess. I thought at best, Everly would be a B-movie Kill Bill knock-off, at worst it would be forgettable junk, like The Purge. But then Everly did the nearly impossible and surpassed even my worst expectations. Though it has B-movie pretensions, Everly is not in any way enjoyable, and it’s far beyond mere junk. It’s a week-old dirty diaper buried under a mountain of refuse and cat piss—it’s straight up garbage. And I wish it was forgettable, but it’s so mind-blowingly bad that it’s burned into my retinas as a kind of warning to never, ever fall for Joe Lynch’s bullsh*t again.
Salma Hayek stars as the titular Everly, a sex slave forced to kill a number of people equal to a small country’s population in order to save her daughter’s life. I will defend Hayek’s right to be an action star—if Keanu Reeves can do it at fifty and Liam Neeson at sixty-two, then forty-eight year old Hayek can, too. And if Everly had been a better movie, she would have been enjoyable in the role. But it’s such a terrible movie that there is no enjoyment to be had, anywhere. I cannot stress this enough—this movie is awful and should not be watched by anyone.
The first time we see Everly she’s naked and brutalized, and then later we get to ever so tastefully—insert eye roll here—revisit the rape that occurs just before the movie begins. From the very first frame, this is what’s wrong with Everly—it’s torture porn dressed up as female empowerment. There’s already a disturbing tendency to cast female heroines as victims before they’re allowed to kick ass, and Everly takes that trope to the max. We see Everly imperiled in a variety of ways up to and including locked into a torture cage where she is graphically tortured. I have zero problem with violent movies but this is not violence just for violence’s sake—this is specifically about seeing a woman suffer.
I’m deeply worried for anyone who can excuse this movie on any level. “Torture porn” is not a cutesy genre name—it’s a last-ditch effort to describe something deeply disturbing. I cannot imagine anyone enjoying this movie unless they’re getting their rocks off on watching women being abused and degraded. Torture porn is a dark and terrible corner of cinema, one that hides behind (slightly) more legitimate genres like grindhouse and sexploitation. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are both capable of taking those genres and turning them into something smarter, or Peter Strickland’s elegant Duke of Burgundy comes to mind, which uses sexploitation tropes to tell an intimate and articulate story. But there are no brains behind Everly, just cruelty.
To prove that director Lynch has seen movies, Everly contains a number of references to other (better) movies, including The Raid, Kill Bill, The Shining, and there’s even a completely out of place Edgar Wright-style quick-cut montage of a character performing a mundane task. But to prove that I, too, have seen movies, here is a list of movies to watch instead of Everly:
A Walk Among the Tombstones
The World’s End
Everly is available in theaters and on demand, but John Wick is also on demand, so just watch John Wick instead.
Attached – Salma at various fashion events over the last couple of weeks.