The Revenant (Review)

The title of the film refers to a ‘revenant’, an undead creature of the night whose body continually deteriorates and essentially rots unless it receives fresh life giving blood.

The rotting part suggests zombie, the ‘needs blood’ and lives by night vampire. I therefore choose to interpret revenants as a half and half creature with traits of each.

Similarly, this film is a half and half. The first half is a revelation, the second a regression back to the norm. The first half is unlike anything I have seen in many years, the second half exactly like almost everything that I have seen in formulaic horror for decades.

It’s like reluctantly going out to dinner and being surprised when your hosts start with amazingly crafted and scrumptious dessert, only to be disappointed when the main course arrives afterwards and is baked beans on toast. Nothing terribly wrong with that, just not so special after the delicious appetiser tempted you so.

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It came as no surprise to me that a film that chooses not to over-explain and fill in an elaborate yet unnecessary backstory was easier to get into and embrace.

Bart’s (David Anders) funeral was a sombre affair, after all he was still a young man when killed while on active duty in Iraq, a total surprise to his friends and family, especially best buddy Joey (Chris Wylde) and longtime sweetheart Janet (Louise Griffiths).

It’s fair to say that his untimely death was less a surprise than his reappearance the following night on Joey’s doorstep looking just like a guy who has been dead for weeks, but conversing with Joey like a guy catching up after a short holiday.

A still from ‘Dude where’s my tan?’

A check up at the hospital only confuses things, seeing as how his organs were taken in preparation for burial days earlier. No wonder Bart feels poorly and occasionally violently vomits black blood and bile…

The film is unique in that Joey and Bart act exactly like best friends would if one announced that he had an STD, we’ll keep it quiet but that doesn’t mean for a second we won’t rag you about it every chance we get. Joey unquestioningly accepts that Bart is still his best – now undead – pal, he ferries him around on errands, puts up with the constant rotting, vomiting and ‘dead spells’, even consults both the internet and a Wiccan nurse as to how best to treat his suddenly undead roommate, like a true mate ignoring the advice to cut off his head and stake his heart.

Yep The Revenant is a trip indeed.

Unfortunately the film cannot adhere to the tone of the inspired first hour of effortless eccentricity, and the second hour noticeably tries to ‘up the coolness quotient’ with depressingly familiar results.

Without elaboration the duo commence a course of action to ensure that Bart’s ongoing decay is manageable and limited – let’s just say that it is a good thing that Los Angeles has a lot of crime.

From this point on the plot and events are reminiscent of many other films. Given that the first half was one of a kind it feels like an opportunity missed.

As Joey Chris Wylde is the central character of the film, for a long while he is the only living being that Bart converses with, and while Bart is indulging in his daily death-nap it is Joey that does most of the wrangling and planning to ensure that he has something to look forward to once he ‘reanimates’ in the early evening.

Wylde could have easily overplayed the role, after all it is a situation where over-acting could been well justified, but his ongoing curiosity and bemusement reflects what we the viewers feel, and he reacts for the most part just how you suspect you might if it was your best friend faced with the same predicament.

Ultimately The Revenant will probably never be widely acknowledged as anything other than a bizarre curio. The second half of the film is simply too uneven and the finale frankly silly, but like Pontypool a few years back the first hour of The Revenant was filled with possibility.

Final Rating – 7 / 10. Overall a patchy effort, but the inspired moments and the performance of Wylde make it worth watching at least once.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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