Friday, June 5, 2009

Underrated Horror: Ravenous

I feel like I need to intersperse my hating on some horror with my love for some. And as is standard with any horror fan, I have my movies that I really feel were never given the justice they deserved. So, I am going to give you guys a glimpse of what I feel are a few movies that have never been given their due. First up on the list: Ravenous.

A quick summary according to IMDB: "A soldier in the Mexican-American war in 1847 is promoted to captain for his perceived bravery but soon transferred to a remote outpost in the Sierra Nevadas when the cowardly truth becomes evident. The outpost's keepers seem on the brink of madness in their own ways, and what passes for their tranquil is shattered by the intrusion of the lone survivor of an ill-fated expedition that ended in murder and cannibalism."

Ravenous unfortunately suffered from the fact that it was very hard to market. It was a little too lighthearted to market it as an entirely serious horror flick (though Fox tried to) and not comedic enough to market as a horror/comedy. It's definitely a horror film and not a comedy, but it is a very quirky horror flick. Ravenous is a tough film to wrap your head around (at least before seeing it) because you don't really know how they can take a subject like cannibalism and make it anything but terribly serious. Luckily for us, the movie does and does it well, thanks largely in part to the actors in it.

*Warning, some minor spoilers lie beyond this point*

Guy Pearce is excellent. As the leading man, he shows a great range in the movie that a lot of actors wouldn't have been able to pull off: he is sulky and cowardly in the beginning of the film, but after many trials and tribulations, he ends up as the amazing hero we all wanted to see in the end. Robert Carlyle shows a different but equally good range in his character arc: from the trembling victim we are introduced to, to the crazed lunatic we find him to be, to the almost Hannibal Lecter-like menacing villain in the end. Jeffrey Jones does the paternal figure to near perfection. Neal McDonough as the "true soldier" Reich, Jeremy Davies as the quiet and religious Toffler, and David Arquette as the overly medicated Cleaves are all very good in their own rights as well. Even the smaller supporting cast members turn in some good performances, making the film very easy to watch.

And the production values are amazing. Ravenous was shot in Eastern Europe in order to achieve the look of mid-19th century America near the Rockies. The shots are very well set up and the sets look quite authentic, actually overshadowing the actors sometimes. The execution is near perfect, showing just the right amount of scenery and yet still allowing the actors to hold your attention. And the gore effects in the movie are very good but not overwhelming, choosing to be more bloody than gory. However, the scenes where the gore is present are enticing, making it simple for a non-gorehound like myself to stay interested while still being violent enough to satisfy gore-seekers. And the final fight scene between Pearce and Carlyle apparently caused the production to run out of fake blood, so if you haven't seen it, that's something to look forward to. I will link a video of it here, but if you haven't seen the movie, you may not want to watch it so it doesn't ruin it for you. On the other hand, it may just make you want to watch the whole damn thing.

And finally, the music for the movie is unlike any other movie you will ever hear. It adds a whole other level to the film that would not have been there with a standard soundtrack. Here's a great example of the strange music featured in the film:

I can't say anything else besides see this movie if you haven't before. It's a movie that I include in my top ten horror movies of all time pretty regularly. It is an unfortunately under appreciated film and I would love to see it get more press (even if it is 10 years old now). So go forth, and heed my recommendation! I don't think I can extol any more virtues of the film. And as always, tell me what you think!

1 comment:

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with your review. It's indeed an overlooked horror gem.