Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ravenous (1999)

Birds sing and I complain about horror-comedy, which is why I'm glad that Ravenous follows yesterday's blog—it's maybe the most recent example of a film which strikes a good balance between giggles and entrails.  A period piece set in nineteenth-century west America, but ably directed by British lady Antonia Bird, Ravenous digs into more obscure horror dirt than most films.  It's centered around the myth of the wendigo: in this case, human cannibalism bestows power and relief from pain upon the consumer, but he also gets a severe craving for more man-meat.

Bird and the script wring black comedy out of this dark premise, but the film is pretty balanced overall and generates serious suspense when necessary.  And it's beautiful—visually, this could compensate for pretty much any script failings, but thankfully our story isn't bad at all.  Aside from the overall premise, the action and dialogue are fairly well-structured and reward a close viewing.  Anguished protagonist Boyd avoids death in the Spanish-American War by lying down and refusing to kill, but eventually ends up peer-pressured by cannibals and advised to kill or die. 

There's a weird tension throughout the movie that probably originated in its troubled shoot (Bird replaced the original director, and the studio tried to "help" a lot during filming).  This will either appeal to you or repulse you, as Ravenous never seems to shoot straight during the comedy or the bloodletting.  It's twitchy and odd and I like this aspect of it.

Oh yeah, and the score is excellent, too.  And that's a story in itself.  And sorry this is short, but October is long and I am weary.  But, yeah, see Ravenous.


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