1800’s Fort Spencer in remote backwoods California is the third drawer of the army, the place where nothing important is shunted for ‘later’, but really it’s just to get it out of the way because you can’t be bothered dealing with it right now or putting it away in its proper place.
The fort runs with a skeleton staff of reprobates, burnouts and losers, so it makes sense when Captain Boyd (Guy Pearce) is transferred there rather than create more problems after his ignominious act of cowardice turned into an accidental success.
At Fort Spencer no-one is asked to do much and over the winter months no-one is foolish enough to even pass through. And winter is coming…
Then a dishevelled and desperate looking man shows up unannounced, in poor shape and exhausted. When he comes to he tells all that his name is Calhoun and then goes on to explain that he was part of a travelling party that took a wrong turn that lead straight to a hair-whitening ordeal that necessitated cannibalism just to survive.
Calhoun (Robert Carlyle) tells them that once he decided to escape there were only two survivors, the vicious and fiendish soldier Colonel Ives and a woman. The Fort leader Colonel Hart reluctantly tells the team to mobilise so that they may investigate, not out of heroism but because ‘it’s our job’.
Along the way to the destination the wide eyed Calhoun tells the travellers that he reluctantly himself consumed human flesh to simply stave off starvation, but was amazed at the recuperative powers that it gave him and the team, some however found eating the others like Pringles Chips – once you pop, you can’t stop…
What ensues is an enjoyably over the top – yet wickedly dark – piece of horror with lashings of gleeful hammery, one that will make sure you never look at the thick chunks in stew the same way ever again.
There are a couple of nifty twists and turns though nothing that is too self-important or unnecessarily complicated. Ravenous is a film that knows what it wants to be and mercifully stays within its own boundaries, actually revelling in its own oozing and poking fun at the very dark subject matter that fills the film.
Robert Carlyle (remember him?) obviously has fun with his role, and there are several other supporting roles with little to do but remain interesting until the main course begins. Pearce remains a straight man in this sea of silliness, though that’s not to say he doesn’t get good n bloody when the situation demands.
Special mention to the uniquely anti-music that rattles along during key scenes in the film, part charming and part off kilter randomness, it is nonetheless effective.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Ravenous might not be high art and it might not even leave you wanting a second helping, but it is a tight, nasty, dark little ninety minutes of efficient horror.