Movie Name: Ravenous
Studio: Heyday Films
Release Date(s): March 19, 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is assigned a position in a remote California Fort Spencer. When a man named F.W. Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle) is brought in with a horror story of being stranded in the mountains and being forced to eat people to survive, a rescue group is sent out to find out if anyone has survived. The men find they have entered a trap and Colqhoun set them up. Colqhoun kills the group with Boyd escaping…and damned to the same fate as Colqhoun when he is forced to eat a man (Neal McDonough). Returning to the fort, Boyd finds Colqhoun has returned as Colonel Ives, and as Boyd tries to convince the fort of the danger, it could be too much before his own hunger takes over.
Directed by Antonia Bird, Ravenous is a western horror thriller with a lot of comedy. The movie was originally intended to be directed by Milcho Manchevski who dropped out just after shooting started. The movie was a box office failure but since its release, Ravenous has gained a cult following.
Ravenous is a really odd film. It has a strange story and weird pacing. The tone and feel of the movie plays more like a comedy and that is contrast of the horror leads the movie to be more of a black comedy.
The story is based around the Native American myth of the Wendigo. The Wendigo is a spirit that possesses a person that consumes human flesh and gives them strength. The movie puts the Wendigo as almost an infection. The desire to consume the flesh almost spreads like a disease…the movie has a slow almost surreal feel and the story almost feels anticlimactic when it comes to the final confrontation between Boyd and Colqhoun but it still ends tongue-in-cheek.
The cast if phenomenal. Guy Pearce is always good as the captain pushed to his limit and Robert Carlyle is creepy as the cannibal Colqhoun. The movie also features Jeffrey Jones as another cannibal just before his fall from grace and arrest in child pornography charges in 2003. There are a number of small supporting roles in the film including David Arquette as a worker at the fort, John Spencer in his last film role as General Slauson, Neal McDonough as Boyd’s unlucky lunch, and Jeremy Davies as another victim of Carlyle.
The movie has a really nice look and sound. The visuals of the mountains and cold of the forest really pop and feel like a true western setting (despite being shot in Slovakia and Mexico). The music is haunting and constant throughout the film and just adds to the strange story.
Ravenous is a fun movie and worth a viewing or two. The first time I saw the movie I took it at face value. This time I had the luxury of watching it for the scenery, the acting, and general feel. Ravenous could be scarier and it could be gorier, but it holds back. If it had gone all out, it probably wouldn’t be as classy, but it does still feel just under done in story.
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