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There's a new Netflix number-one movie - just don't look at the reviews

Stranger Things star heads-up a subversion of classic fantasy tales...

There's a new Netflix number-one movie - just don't look at the reviews
Andrew Williams
11 March 2024

Netflix has a new number one movie, and it’s a pretty big one, with almost a clean sweep across the many countries in which Netflix operates.

Damsel is currently Netflix’s top movie in 86 countries according to Flixpatrol, just a couple of days on from its release.

It stars Stranger Things’s Millie Bobby Brown as the damsel of the title, but this dark fantasy flick takes an unusual perspective.

Millie Bobby Brown’s Elodie is prepared for her wedding. But she finds instead of being wife to a prince, she’s thrown into a pit to be sacrificed to a dragon, in a ritual that has been in place for generations.

But, of course, Elodie is no mere damsel in distress. The trailer makes a pretty compelling case for the film:

The bad bit: Damsel has not had the best reception from the critics, leading to a 59% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Damsel reviews

Empire gave the film a 2/5 rating, and suggests it’s not clear exactly who Damsel is made for.

“Too childish and shallow for adults, yet too brutal and gory for kids, this is one Damsel that really does need saving, after all,” the review reads.

ABC News’s negative review says Damsel outstays its welcome, despite clocking in at under two hours.

“It’s not the damsel but the audience that will suffer distress from the nonstop, numbing repetition that turns this movie dull and dreary way too fast,” the review says.

The Independent’s 2/5 review turns into a savaging at points, and goes as far as to call Damsel “dreck.”

“Dan Mazeau’s script feels like it was spun out of a series of girlboss Facebook memes – “we are the granddaughters of the princesses you couldn’t burn”, or “there is a special place in hell for girl dragons who don’t help other women”-type business,” it says.

However, it’s not all bad. Rotten Tomatoes’s audience score for Damsel is a much more healthy 73%, and while no-one calls the film a masterpiece, plenty of the critic reviews are roundly positive.

The Guardian calls Damsel “a rousing revenge saga that provides a thin yet encouraging message for its younger female audience and a balm for those older viewers who grew up being spoon-fed the same old gendered cliches,” in its 3-star review.

Vulture likes the film too, and says “Damsel is a grisly and at times even touching tale of endurance and survival. It’s sweaty, snarly fun.”

Like Milly Bobby Brown creeping along a tight ledge while being chased by a dragon, there’s a precarious balance here. You’ll either fall off entirely or find yourself along for the ride.

Damel was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, best known for writing and directing the rather excellent 28 Weeks Later.