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The Revenant (2012)
26th Mar 12
A soldier gunned down in Iraq rises from the dead upon his return home. Vigilantism and drug benders are the natural progression.
Review The Revenant does something we all know you just should not do: it tries to be a modern cult classic. The truly shocking thing is that might actually pull it off thanks to a tonne of love behind the camera from former effects man Kerry D Prior, an unpredictable plot and a blistering lead performance.
A few hours after his funeral, Bart (Anders) crawls from the grave and his zombie-like tendency to decay and a vampire style schedule of bloodlust on restrictive hours brings drug dealing slacker pal Joey (Wylde) to the conclusion his old hedonism-buddy is now the titular form of the lucid undead. The duo concoct schemes to acquire suitable amounts of the red stuff while side-stepping immorality - this results in a merciless bodycount and a wild amount of bullets.
The plot would suggest a lot of schlock and jock humour and for the most part things are pretty bloody but a good deal darker and smarter than you might expect. Although each progression isn’t anything we’ve not seen before, the shifts in tone and character are judged so well as to make it very hard to work out where things are headed.
The big moments; a stunning set piece over two train stations and by far the genre-screen’s best use yet of a vibrator, are pulled off with a twisted irresistible charm and some ingenious stretching of a modest budget for big screen thrills mark Prior out for a career in the Raimi / Jackson / Cameron mould.
If the Horror Oscars were an actual thing that mattered or happened then Anders would be front runner for the best actor gong. Bart’s stressful exhilarating arc really allows the longtime supporting TV veteran to show what he can do with a very funny, very tragic show that matches every turn of the plot bang on. Wylde is more a sidekick than the full half of a double act but Joey ends up being as surprisingly interesting as the rest of the movie and of all the Mexican stereotype gangbangers in cinema, Emiliano Torres’ Miguel is the one most deserving of his own action figure.
There is the odd misstep: the first act takes its sweet-ass time just a little too sweet-assly; a run in with a racist overeducated black store robber is one of a few misjudged political near-swipes and the bittersweet subplot with the maybe too beautiful Louise Griffiths could probably be excised entirely. Losing it might have cost the film a little heart but would’ve upped the fun/pace no end and besides, with the impressive blood puking effects and even more impressive fetishistic array of firepower it’s doubtful Prior was going for seduction movie of the year.
Hints at a larger world beyond the framework of Bart’s dark story may come off as a tease for some but the script tells a refreshingly complete tale that’s pleasingly circular with a spectacular coda.
As if knowing a strong cult following is guaranteed the razor sharp blu-ray comes with an extra’s menu worthy of a 25th Anniversary Obsessive Super Fan’s Edition. THREE commentaries: one with Prior; one with him and the tech team and another with the four leads (“he was just, intellectually, the shit back then” is my undisputed commentary quote of the month). A spoofy making-of mostly hits the mark and a batch of worth watching deleted scenes complete this curious party’s wet dream package.
Taking the main set up of Bob Clark’s classic Deathdream and running in a direction all its own, The Revenant is a gorgeous looking, dark, fun ride that’s gonna please the majority of movie geeks. It’s the kind of film that feels like an adaptation of a non-existent graphic novel – but an adaptation of a non-existent graphic novel done sublimely right.
The Revenant is released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on April 2 2012. Visit the following links to order your copy now;
Versions This release is the new "Official version" where several scenes were consolidated and additional scenes and footage was added or restored. The old, (2009) cut is now considered the "Festival Version," and should properly be considered the "alternate" version.