Judge Gordon Sullivan's zombie mother told him there would be days like this.
Our review of The Revenant (Region 2), published April 13th, 2012, is also available.
Keeping our streets safe for the undead.
There is a popular delusion amongst film school students that they will be able to one-day take the director's chair. The sad truth is only one out of thousands will ever realize that dream. The rest will find themselves working as producers, cinematographers, writers, and all manner of production-related jobs. Sometimes, though, after years of toiling in a related field, a determined filmmaker achieves that seemingly impossible dream.
Kerry Prior is one of the lucky few. His name has been attached to over a dozen movies working in special effects or the camera department, primarily in the sci-fi and horror genre. His resume includes wonderful films like The Lost Boys, Bubba Ho-tep, and two of the A Nightmare on Elm Street installments. Though he did write, direct, edit, and produce Roadkill in 1996, The Revenant is by far his most ambitious undertaking. In an era obsessed with found-footage and saturated with unremarkable remakes, the horror faithful may eat this one up. But not everyone will be happy The Revenant rose from the dead.
Bart (David Anders, Alias) is a U.S. soldier who gets killed in an Iraqi ambush, only to wake up and find himself to be a reanimated corpse. In the midst of freaking out over his fate, he immediately heads his stoner buddy's house, and on the way foils an attempted robbery. Empowered by this new vigilante path, Bart and Joey (Chris Wylde) decide it's time to clean up the underworld.
As you might guess, The Revenant is destined to be a love-it-or-hate-it experience. Everything positive about the film suffers an equal and opposite negative:
• The film is a huge genre-hopper. Bart is basically a zombie, but also sort of a vampire. He and his buddy fight crime, while also trying to deal with feelings for his still-living lady friend. That's half a dozen genres mashed together right there. Fans will see this is evidence of a brilliant, genre-bending approach to horror-comedy. Detractors will see a script that steals from better films and should have undergone several more drafts prior to filming.
• This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach results in the film being almost two hours long. Fans will revel in its willingness to pull out all the stops to give viewers more blood, more action, and more laughs. Detractors will suffer through a tough slog burdened by moments that feel imported from non-genre pictures, like romantic red herrings and Bart's existential crisis.
• Horror-comedy is not an easy genre to pull off, and The Revenant proves itself a bit too wishy-washy. Gore fans will be pleased to see lots of the red stuff, though comedy fans might be turned off by the film's all too realistic approach to these visual effects. Similarly, the horror sometimes falls away in favor of the funny, which might irk genre aficionados.
To be fair, this is critical quibbling. The Revenant is aimed squarely at the horror faithful, and while they might complain about the film's mixed-up mythology or a bloated run time, this festival circuit favorite direct-to-DVD release is still better than 90% of the horror that makes it to theatre. There are scares, laughs, gore, and fun to be had, even if it's not a perfect genre film.
Presented in standard def 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer is solid throughout. Black levels are deep and consistent, with no compression of serious artifacting. Skin tones are accurate, and colors are well saturated. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix does a great job handling its dialogue and musical score, keeping everything balanced.
Bonus features kick off with two commentaries—one by Prior, and another from the film's cast. Between the two we get a pretty clear idea how much difficultly the film went through getting to home video; from production stories and jokes, to a bit of technical know-how. We also get a pretty standard making-of featurette, with interviews and on-set footage, as well as a handful of deleted scenes, a photo gallery, and the film's trailer.
Despite its flaws, I enjoyed The Revenant as a fun horror-comedy that takes a maximalist approach to genre.
Not perfect, but Not Guilty.
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