Netflix's new dark comedy Do Revenge is tapping into something audiences may not have even realized they were missing. If you've found yourself in the last decade or so longing for the nostalgia of teen movies with an edge like Heathers, Cruel Intentions, or Mean Girls, then you're in luck. While Do Revenge doesn't ever get quite as dark as Heathers or as catty as Mean Girls, it makes one brilliant move, bringing in a star of Cruel Intentions—Sarah Michelle Gellar—and putting her, for a few moments, front and center. It's a brilliant move to let audiences know one important thing: this movie belongs.
Do Revenge ultimately boils down to a fun, stylish, mix of a bunch of different kinds of movies. It's got the ruthless drama of the best teen high school flicks (like Mean Girls), the dark, quasi-social satire comedic moments of others (like Heathers), with some fun revenge plotting mixed in (think 2010's Horrible Bosses, starring Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, and Jason Bateman). On top of all that, the movie also boasts one of the best soundtracks you'll ever hear (writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson's last movie, Someone Great, was also top-notch in this department).
But in its inclusion of Gellar, the movie make a sly and smart meta-statement: it knows that people watching have seen the other movies in the genre, and know this star was a big part of the best ones. Her role, a brief cameo, yes, but one that's unforgettable in the larger scheme of the movie's story, is a fun, winking eye to both the viewer and the genre's past. And Gellar's participation serves as a compelling cosign to everything that comes before, after, and during her scenes.
Do Revenge features '90s Teen Icon Sarah Michelle Gellar as the Headmaster.
Viewers likely know Gellar from a plethora of late '90s and early 2000s genre classics. Some of these include the aforementioned Cruel Intentions, and the live-action Scooby-Doo, but it was in the horror or horror-adjacent world where she really made her name. In 1997 she appeared in both Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer, and in 2004 she led the hit American remake of The Grudge. Of course, she's probably best known for her leading role on TV, where for six seasons and 144 episodes she played the titular iconic role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In playing "The Headmaster" in Do Revenge, Gellar steps into a role that has been somewhat commonplace in the past: the past star of a similar genre movie or show appearing in a supporting role or cameo that serves as something of a cosign to familiar viewers.
One example: in 2001's Not Another Teen Movie—which spoofs various teen comedies from the '80s and '90s—Molly Ringwald shows up. Ringwald was a frequent star of John Hughes' seminal '80s dramedies, and her presence sent a clear sign to fans: I approve.
It happens in other genres too. Stranger Things 4 saw a brief appearance from Robert Englund—best known as the actor behind Freddy Kreuger—in a season when Netflix's megahit clearly was taking inspiration from A Nightmare On Elm Street. Mike Flanagan's upcoming series The Midnight Club also cast an Elm Street icon in her own right—Heather Langenkamp, who played final girl Nancy Thompson—in what serves a similar purpose: this person of authority in the space is on board.
With Gellar's brief Do Revenge appearance (she only shares a few scenes with star Camila Mendes), it's clear that what the intention was. First and foremost, of course, create a good, memorable moment. Then, of course, advance the story. But also let viewers see this icon again, and let them know that this person they trust, and who's been a vital figure in this space before, is on board. They're here for the ride—so you should be too.
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