To start out by giving writer/director Kerry Prior a lot of credit, this is a truly unique zombie movie. Except, it’s not really fair to call The Revenant a zombie film. It’s a revenant film. Now, on the spectrum of undead creatures, a revenant is somewhere between a zombie and a vampire. Decomposing surely, but sentient with all the personality they had when they were alive, and drinking blood for sustenance. This film follows a revenant named Bart (David Anders; Heroes), a soldier who’s killed in Iraq and shipped home for his funeral only to come back to life as a rotting corpse. He seeks out his friend Joey (Chris Wylde) and the two men try to come to terms with Bart’s condition. Ultimately, they decide to hunt down criminals and kill them so Bart can drink their blood and keep himself from decomposing.
The mythology created for The Revenant is really interesting and creative. For all intents and purposes, a revenant is just like a man, except dead. He doesn’t necessarily have a “blood lust” but needs blood to keep himself going. Most interesting of all is how he’s affected by sun rise. It won’t cause him to burst into flames, or sparkle, but instead will kill him. However, this death is more like how the revenant sleeps. Once the sun sets again, he wakes up, continuing this cycle presumably forever.
Winner of several audience awards at various film festivals, The Revenant classifies itself as a horror comedy, but it leans in a more dramatic direction to me. It achieves humor through being absurd, and it’s a true love letter to the horror film genre, but at the end of the day, it’s really about two friends at a basic character level. Anders and Wylde play off of each other really well, each complimenting the other effectively. Bart is more reserved and reluctant to embrace his new undead lifestyle while Joey thinks it’s awesome and keeps encouraging him to kill and drink blood.
My biggest criticism of the film is its length. There are distinct chunks of the film that could have been edited down or cut out completely as they tend to get repetitive and stop contributing anything to the overall movie. The pacing in these sections gets a bit muddy, and make the movie less enjoyable to watch. Fortunately, these tedious moments are not very common, but it would be nice to see this tightened up a little more.
The ending has a somewhat preachy message about the Government’s tendency to abuse any power it comes across, but it certainly doesn’t ruin the film. In fairness, I didn’t see it coming, so that at least is effective.
Special Features include a really funny behind the scenes featurette which has an almost Vincent Price like narration to it, deleted scenes, photo gallery, Director commentary, and trailers.
Available on DVD from Lionsgate on September 18