Movie Review: Ravenous

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Ravenous Banner

Antonia Bird Banner

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Ravenous Kill Graph

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Bare Hands, Knife, Tomahawk, Black Powder Revolver, Musket, Mallet, Cavalry Saber, Log, Pitchfork,

Head-Butts, Meat Cleaver, Bear Trap

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Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

Every now and then a weird little oddball movie will pop up and truly surprise me. Ravenous, at first glance, looks like your run-of-the-mill cannibal in the woods movie, but not so; instead the movie takes a slight supernatural turn as the cannibals literally gain strength and heal wounds from eating human flesh, making this feel almost like a vampire movie. And while a dark, gritty tone would have been perfectly acceptable, the movie surprises me again by taking a bit of a humorous bent; not all-out comedy, but certainly tongue-in-cheek.

During the Mexican-American War, Captain Boyd is punished for cowardice by being transferred to the worst post possible, Fort Spencer, an isolated little shack out in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains. Just as Boyd is getting adjusted to his new surroundings, a shaggy-haired man comes stumbling out of the woods with an incredible story of survival and cannibalism that leads Boyd and his fellow soldiers to mount a dangerous rescue mission into the woods.

Bad Ass Boyd  Ives on the Hunt

Like I’ve said, this is no ordinary cannibal movie; these cannibals can get stabbed, shot, and skewered and still come after you just as long as they can get their hands on some fresh meat. In fact, these cannibals are actually Wendigo. As an American Indian recounts in the movie, when a man eats the flesh of another man, he steals his spirit and gains his strength, becoming a Wendigo. However, the effects don’t last and the eating becomes like a drug habit; the Wendigo is forced to keep feeding, becoming hungrier the more he eats.

Yum Yum Crazy Face Deadman

It’s a very fresh premise and I absolutely loved the hero, Captain Boyd, who is so atypically unheroic. He is in fact a coward and proves it more than once in the movie; he also happens to be a cannibal (don’t worry, I’m not giving anything away, as this fact is revealed early on). Yet despite all that, he eventually finds the strength to stand against his enemy (and his own cravings) and ends up being rather likable. The villain is no less remarkable as he transforms from a raving lunatic to an implacably cool and manipulative devil-in-disguise. You’ve got to love a villain so megalomaniacal that he compares his hunger to manifest destiny. The interplay between Boyd and the villain keeps the movie moving along briskly in between massacres.

RUN Knox Stew

Speaking of massacres, there’s a good helping of blood to be had here, but nothing wildly over-the-top. There’s a few spilled guts here and a little flesh-eating there. The best parts are really the implied cannibalism; any movie that can make eating stew seem gruesome is doing something right. And I have to mention the outrageous soundtrack. The music was probably the first cue I had that this was going to be something special. It’s an off-kilter hodgepodge of wheezy concertina, demented banjo picking, and sprightly fiddle—a hillbilly nightmare of a soundtrack that ranges from manically cheerful to rabidly ferocious.

A truly original and entertaining movie all around but the real meat of the film is the battle of wits between Boyd and the villain, since the other characters (aside from the delightful Jeffery Jones as Colonel Hart) are mostly disposable kill fodder. If you’ve got a meat-tooth for cannibal mayhem, Ravenous serves it up extra-rare.

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