Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ravenous (1999)

Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 3/5

Excellent film about cannibalism and vampirism with great performances from Robert Carlyle and Guy Pierce (whatever happened to that guy?). 

Set in the mid 1800s, the film follows Pierce who plays an American soldier mistakenly awarded some medal of honor for infiltrating enemy lines during the Spanish American War, and capturing a regimen of guys. In fact, Pierce's act of bravery was accomplished by playing dead while his friends and comrades were all gunned down around him. As he was piled onto the cart with all of the other dead bodies he lay beneath several corpses whose blood drained into his mouth and down his throat. This "changed" him and allowed himself to crawl out and capture the bad guys. 

His superior officers know all of this and are forced to award him the medal, but then promptly assign his ass to an isolated post in the Sierra Nevada's as punishment for being a coward. There he lives with a very small group of soldiers and two native guides. All is calm and quiet until Robert Carlyle arrives one night, emaciated and on death's door. After being nursed to health, he tells a horrible story of survival wherein he and the others he was traveling with were stranded in the mountains with no food, forced to resort to cannibalism. As the group dwindled down to just three, he knew he was next on the "chopping block" and took off on his own, hoping for the best. 

Being soldiers, they all know that they must go back out to where Carlyle was stranded and try to rescue to other two so off they go with Carlyle leading the way. When they arrive, things turn out to be different than they were led to believe. 

Ravenous is, at it's heart, a vampire movie with bad guys that are easy to sympathize with (it's just their nature) and concepts that will be familiar to any vampire fan (cannibalism giving one superhuman strength and healing powers). But it's also a great period piece with very strong performances from Jeffrey Jones, Henry Thomas and David Arquette as well as a smart, tense and, at times, darkly funny script. But make no mistake, there are some bloody and gory scenes that (if the subject matter alone didn't already) grimly remind the viewer that this is, indeed, a true horror film. 

An under appreciated and well done film worth seeking out. 

- Complaint Dept

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