Title: The Revenant (2009)
Director: D. Kerry Prior
Cast: David Anders, Chris Wylde
Sometimes, a movie will go straight to dvd, when it should've gone theatrical because of how great it is, I think The Revenant is this kind of film. It wasn’t released theatrically, at least not on a large scale and it went straight to dvd, which normally means it wasn’t good enough for theaters or that it was too graphic or gory. In The Revenant’s case I think it was the gore factor that kept it out of theaters because in all honesty this is an excellent horror comedy! I kept wondering why it wasn’t released theatrically, the visuals are so crisp, the effects top notch, the acting great and the story involving and filled with surprises. Last time that happened to me was with Donnie Darko (2001)! I agree with many reviewers, this one is sure to become a cult favorite. What made The Revenant so good?
Story is all about this American soldier named Bart who’s right smack in the middle a mission in some foreign country when blamo, he gets killed in action. Cut to his funeral, everyone cries for the dead soldier. But, because of a crane malfunctioning at the cemetery, his coffin is left unburied. For some reason that is never explained, he ends up coming back to life. So, now Bart the undead, still dressed in his military uniform ends up going back to his best friends house, who at first can’t believe his friend is back from the dead, but then comes to gradually accept it. Questions quickly arise: what is Bart? Is he a zombie? Is he a vampire? Well, he came back from the dead, which technically makes him a zombie but he also needs to feed on blood to retain his good looks, which would make him a vampire. The two actually end up looking into the dictionary to define what a zombie and vampire are supposed to be, at the end of the day they come to the decision that Bart is a ‘Revenant’, one who returns after death.
The Revenant reminded me a lot of Bob Clark’s Deathdream (1974) also known as Dead of Night. This film was all about a soldier named Andy who returns home from war. His parents thought he was dead, yet here he is, alive and kicking. In that film, Andy -the returning soldier- comes back in a zombie-like state, acting all sorts of strange. His family takes him in because he is their son, and he is back; he didn’t die at war after all so who cares how strange he is acting? Little do they know that Andy is not really himself anymore! He must feed on human blood now! And so, the similarities between Deathdream and The Revenant are blatantly obvious, in my eyes, it’s practically a remake. But where Deathdream was all dead serious and a straight forward horror film, The Revenant is filled with humor, gore and takes it’s premise in a whole other direction then Clark’s film.
The Revenant is essentially a ‘buddy film’ not unlike Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), Juan of the Dead (2011) or Shaun of the Dead (2004). And you know how that goes, two best friends who are practically brothers suddenly have to face a horrifying situation together and try and over come it. Bart is the soldier who comes back from the dead while Joey is the the slacker type, who basically behaves a lot like ‘The Dude’ from The Big Lebowski (1998); he even dresses like him and complains about his rug! That was in my opinion a great nudge to a great film. At one point they both decide to use their ‘dark gift’ to stop evil in the world, so they become sort of like vigilante vampires/zombies. And a thing about the whole vampire/zombie thing, this is yet another thing it has in common with Bob Clark’s Deathdream, we don’t really know if they are either zombies or vampires, at the end of the day, these characters are a strange mix of both.
The film was directed by first time director D. Kerry Prior who has done lots of extensive work on the field of special effects. He’s worked in such films as The Abyss (1989), Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), The Lost Boys (1987), and Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994). Normally I’d say this is a bad thing because when fx guys decide to direct, it’s not always a good thing, but on this case I’ll make an exception. Prior turned in an exceptionally good looking film that is well acted, is funny, has tons of gore and is just a fun watch. It’s not a very original film because it draws from a lot of films that came before it, but if you ask me, the rewatchability factor is extremely high on this one, I know I want to see it again. I’m also curious to see what Prior will be directing next, because he deserves a chance to make another. The Film Connoisseur says go rent this one right now, The Revenant is a keeper! It's the kind of film that makes me wonder why I hadn't heard of it before!
Rating: 4 1 /2 out of 5