The Revenant

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When a solider loses his life overseas, he somehow reanimates as a living dead Revenant in his hometown of Los Angeles.

Okay, this may be an Undead Review first on my part. I’m not going to use this spot to be funny like I usually do, I’m not going to use this spot to see how many expletives I can string together before a friend starts slapping me, and I’m not even going to bitch about anything here in particular. I only want to say thank you, thank you to the men and women of the armed forces who risk their own lives to protect others. The Revenant begins its story with the tragic death of a soldier, and that is something that, sadly enough, many of us have had to endure in our own lives, whether it was a loved one of your own, or a friend of a friend, most of us have known at least one soldier killed or seriously wounded in the line of duty. Many times we hear about those deaths and unless that person was someone close to our own heart, we brush it off as just another news story we didn’t want to hear. I know I’m guilty of it myself, so I just wanted to take this moment to give a heartfelt thank you to those fighting for our freedom. It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with why the fighting is taking place, the fact that you fight means you deserve my admiration and my gratitude so thank you. Okay, let’s get past the mushy stuff now and get on with the review (damn it, I think this zombie is tearing up).

Bart is serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan when an ambush tragically ends the soldier’s life, or so it seems. As his cooling body lies on the dessert floor, something off screen grabs the body and yanks it off camera. Three weeks later and Bart’s best friend Joey and girlfriend Janet are burying him with full honors, finding comfort in a grief they can both share. Things are not what they seem though as the deceased soldier comes back from the dead in shock and confusion, unsure of what he’s doing back in L.A. and completely unaware that he’s dead. Bart does the only thing that makes sense to him and heads over to his buddy’s house to get some much needed answers. Of course, since Joey just buried his best friend, Bart’s arrival at his front door isn’t the most welcome of news and an understandably terrified Joey almost bashes Bart’s head in, only relenting when Bart promises not to hurt him. While our newly returned member of the living dead looks bad enough, it takes a horribly explosive reaction from some food and drink to convince Joey to take his friend to the hospital where even Bart can no longer ignore the truth, the truth being that he’s dead. As morning roles around and the most horrible night either of them has ever had to endure ends, Bart passes out and leaves Joey to sort through the mess. A call to a spiritualist friend of theirs’ brings knowledge that Bart is a Revenant, driven to drink blood in order to survive, so Joey must cut off his head to end the ordeal. Since this doesn’t even register to Joey, he watches over Bart until dusk when the revenant wakes up, hungry as hell but unable to put down regular food. The two hatch a plan, stealing some blood from a hospital in order to satiate Bart’s hunger, but stealing from the hospital isn’t always going to be an option, they’re going to have to devise a different strategy to keep Bart feed, and luckily enough for the two of them an idea presents itself. While trying to buy some beer, Bart stops a robbery that was about to turn into a murder, feeding on the corpse when he’s done, and becoming an instant celebrity as a vigilante. Realizing that feeding off of scum is better than hurting the innocent or robbing the hospital, they become “The Vigilante Gunslingers”, protecting L.A. while getting a good meal, but as time goes on and the body count starts to mount, the only thing certain is a final showdown that could send them both under permanently.

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{No point in being undead unless you can look cool doing it}

I had to do some research as to what the hell a revenant actually was before writing out this review. The movie doesn’t really differentiate as to if they are vampires or zombies; there’s a small discussion between Joey and Bart after they realize Bart is no longer among the living, but by the end of the discussion they only come to the conclusion that Bart is a revenant. I found this explanation a bit lacking based mainly on my own lack of knowledge as to what the hell a revenant was in the first place, so I hit the web to satisfy my cravings for an answer. Turns out they did explain it during their discussion; I just didn’t pay enough attention. A revenant is a cross between a zombie and a vampire, neither one nor the other but a combination of both; they are the original western European vampires, though they were never considered such until the early 1800’s (vampires were more of an eastern European thing before that). A revenant is a walking corpse that must feed on the blood of the living to survive, so while it does have vampiric traits in that it needs blood to survive, it’s still a rotting corpse that has come back from the grave to torment the living. So it’s both a vampire and a zombie and yet neither. I have to admit, I like revenants way more than full on vampires after doing the research. Plus, now I can sound kind of smart while really having no actual clue what I’m talking about other than what the internet provided for me. Thanks internet.

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{The internet is a brutal but giving mistress}

There’s a lot to like about The Revenant, but I think the thing I liked the most was the story. It was so well written and in depth that I couldn’t help but love it. While on the surface it seems like just a story about a vampire/zombie, at its heart it’s so much more, a story about true friendship, how far a person will go to save a friend or even themselves, and how that in saving themselves a person can justify anything. I have to say that even my unbeating heart felt touched by some of the scenes with Joey and Bart. While Bart is dead and in need of blood to survive, even killing people in order to satiate that need, Joey is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his friend “alive” while Bart is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Joey safe. They manage to justify the things they do with the fact that they are only killing “bad guys” and therefore actually helping society in their minds, but in the end they’re only doing it to satisfy their own needs, something neither of them realize until it’s too late. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely kill off some people that needed to die (a few rapists in particular, one of the few things I believe warrants death), but they aren’t doing it for the altruistic reasons they convince themselves of, and that’s what I thought was impressive in their story. I also liked how much the pair’s friendship is put to the test, by the end they’re nearly ready to end each other, but the love they feel for one another brings them back together toward the end (somewhat together anyway, you’ll just have to watch) and that really hit the nail on the head for me as to how much depth the story had. My best friend, a man who’s more brother than friend, and I had a major falling out a few years back and neither one of us spoke to the other for a while, but eventually we both realized that our friendship was too valuable to throw away and so we reconciled our differences. The Revenant made me think of that (though our fight had more to do with me biting our friends than biting bad guys), and I think anyone who’s ever gone through something similar is going to instantly relate.

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{Nothing like the bond between a zombie and his best friend}

The story isn’t where the awesomeness (is that even a word) that is The Revenant ends. They did an excellent job in picking the actors for this film. David Anders did an amazing job as Bart, pulling off his character’s personality changes perfectly, from fearful confusion, to dark enjoyment, to guilt ridden depression, and finally to complete acceptance of what he is. I’ve only ever seen him play one other part (I know he was in a few other things, most notably Vampire Diaries, but I’m just not a fan of that show), that of Adam Monroe on Heroes (yes, I watched it for a bit, fuck Sylar). While Anders’ performance impressed me I was almost just as impressed by actor Chris Wyle’s performance as Bart’s best friend Joey. Both actors had a great chemistry between each other, and I could easily see them as having been friends for years.

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{I would do this on any given day with my friends}

There were three other things that made this film shine, the effects, the scenery, and the lighting. The effects first of all were excellent, the makeup artist did a wonderful job in creating revenants, from the starved and rotting when they were without blood, to the fully fed and “fresher” looking versions. They all looked great and incredibly believable. There is a shootout scene towards the end that, while not only being a completely badass scene, also showed off just how much talent the makeup department had (trust me, you need to see it). Now while the makeup department managed to make them look awesome, they also did something else, they made them look gritty, not dirty, but gritty and one of the reasons they didn’t look dirty was because the scenery around them was so much dirtier. The movie takes place in L.A. and I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever been there but let me tell you, it’s a shithole. The place is a dirty mess of grime and general nastiness, not the good kind either, hell; just flying in you can see the layer of black smog you pass through before landing, fucking disgusting. I will say though that the city leant itself perfectly to the film, even the interior sets. The dark lighting on top of this only made it that much worse and kept the film very dark, both figuratively and literally. All three added up made for a great movie watching experience.

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{Seriously, walk into nearly any public bathroom in L.A. and you’ll find something similar going on}

Though this may not be a flat out vampire or zombie flick, it’s definitely becoming one of my favorite vampire or zombie films right next to Daybreakers. The Revenant is a fun, creepy, yet heartwarming tale that I think anyone a little tired of the standard vampire or zombie fare will appreciate.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: D. Kerry Prior (Roadkill)

Starring: David Anders (Children of the Corn, Heroes {TV}, The Vampire Diaries {TV}), Chris Wylde (Space Cowboys, The Ten), Louise Griffiths (Simon Says, The Mudman), and Jacy King

Released By: Putrefactory and Paladin (II)

Release Type: Straight to Video

Release Year: 2012

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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2 Responses to The Revenant

  1. rarehorror says:

    Nice review… I think this movie is really underrated.

    Like

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