Today: June 11, 2024

The Revenant

When US soldier Bart (David Anders) is killed in combat in Iraq, you’d be forgiven for thinking his problems were pretty much over.

When US soldier Bart (David
Anders) is killed in combat in Iraq, you’d be forgiven for thinking his
problems were pretty much over.

Shipped home to California in a body bag, he’s treated to a hero’s
funeral complete with flag-draped coffin, 21-gun salute and weeping fiancé
Janet (Louise Griffiths).

However, once night falls, Brad wakes up. Decaying and confused, he claws his way out of the grave and
calls on self-medicating best bud Joey (Chris
Wylde
). Together they work out
that Bart has become one of the undead, a revenant – sort of halfway between a
vampire and a zombie – who only becomes animate at night and must drink blood
to sustain himself and stop the rot.

Ignoring the advice of Wiccan nurse Matty (Jacy King) who tells Joey to chop off
Bart’s head and drive a stake through his heart, the boys rob a blood bank
instead. But after a fatal
encounter with a Mexican gangbanger, the boys embrace Bart’s new indestructible
nature and hit the mean streets of LA as night-stalking vigilantes, robbing and
killing gangsters, drug dealers and rapists to satiate Bart’s thirst for blood
and Joey’s enthusiastic drug use, becoming folk heroes in the process. But what starts out as a crusade for
justice soon spirals out of control…

If you love sitting in the dark (even of your own living room) feeling
that delicious tingle of terror dance along your spine, if you love that almost
sexual adrenaline jolt of pulse-pounding fear, if you love that reflexive laugh
of hysteria or that churning feeling of dread, in short, if you love horror
movies, truly love them, nothing will fill you full of dread faster than the
words horror/comedy.

Face it, you can count on the stump of one severed hand how many
horror/comedies are actually any good.
Most plain don’t deliver on the horror front, they aren’t gross enough
and there just aren’t enough scares.
And they’re never very funny, you’re shortchanged on the comedy, they
don’t make you bray with laughter, they don’t force you to spray beer through
your nose the way a good comedy should.
And don’t bother emailing us how good Shaun Of The Dead was because you’re wrong. Shaun
Of The Dead
wasn’t even as good as that episode of Spaced where Simon Pegg went mad because he’d played too much Resident Evil. Most horror/comedies just aren’t very
good.

The Revenant though is good. Really good. An
American Werewolf In London
good. Re-Animator good. Damn, its good. The script by director Prior is
genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, the direction is tight and controlled and the
make-up and effects are as good as you’d expect from a former special effects
whiz. The action is sharp, the
violence brutal and there’s enough splashy gore around to keep the most devoted
splatter fan happy. The humour is
deliciously dark; it’s hard to express just how pant-wettingly, hysterically
funny watching your hero, a rotting corpse, uncontrollably puke black, tarry
vomit over himself actually is whilst losing none of the inate horror. Similarly, a scene involving a severed
head and a large pink vibrator of heroic dimensions may just be the sickest,
guiltiest, funniest thing you’ll witness this year.

Though King and Griffiths don’t really have much to do, being called
upon to be skeptical and sweet respectively, the film is built upon the
chemistry of leads Anders and Wylde.
A stalwart of TV shows like Alias and Heroes, Anders is terrific, essaying a sympathetic, befuddled monster, an
essentially good, decent man trying, and failing to keep his horrific appetites
in check. The bug-eyed Wylde
meanwhile is hilarious; a cowardly, increasingly deranged, drug-fuelled weasel,
who gets into the vigilante business for fun and profit, he resembles Pee-Wee
Herman immediately after that unfortunate porn theatre bust. Together they bring a surprising amount
of heart to a horror/buddy flick about zombies on a killing spree.

While it may be about twenty minutes too long and, as it lurches from
horror to comedy, action to romance and back again to horror, the film’s final
transformation into pitch-black, political satire with America’s War on Terror
finally getting some bite may be a step too far, these are minor quibbles. When
every other month seems to see the release of yet another cheap found-footage
film, a Saw sequel or yet another Final Destination movie, it’s a crime that a film as good as The
Revenant
has been sitting on a shelf since 2009 waiting on a distributor. The Revenant is a true one-off; a
smart, funny, ferocious horror movie which dares to be fresh, to try and be
something different.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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