Ravenous

"Good"

Ravenous Review


"Ravenous" is a dark comedy thriller about cannibalismat an army post in the pre-Gold Rush Sierra Nevada. It's one of those high-conceptmovies that is easy to pitch to a studio head in 25 words or less by combiningtwo ideas into a sentence, in this case, "'Dances With Wolves' meetsthe Donner party."

Originally envisioned as more horror than parody, 20thCentury Fox changed directors early on because they wanted to emphasizethe humor angle, as the script was already rich with subtle irony -- ituses cannibalism as a metaphor for Manifest Destiny and drug addiction.

As a result of the change, the movie is often uncertainwhich way it wants to go, but once it finds its footing, the comedy elementsmix successfully into what is essentially a abstruse thriller.

"Ravenous" stars Guy Pearce ("L.A.Confidential") as Captain Boyd, a cowardlyarmy captain and accidental Mexican-American war hero, who is assignedto a California mountain fort full of oddball enlistees during the winterof 1847. There he helps rescue a pioneer named Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle,"The Full Monty"), who tells a harrowing taleof settlers trapped by a snowstorm who turned to cannibalism to stay alive,then developed an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

This campfire tale scene sets the mood for the film, Carlylegripping both his on-screen and off-screen audiences with all-too-vividstorytelling in the dungeon-like setting of the cold and dreary fort. "Thingsgot out of hand," he whispers. "I ate sparingly. Others did not."

The fort brigade, lead by commanding officer Hart (JeffreyJones), sets off to find the cave where the settlers put in and hopefullyrescue whatever is left of them, but Colqhoun isn't quite what he seemsand the rescue becomes something of a massacre, leaving Boyd having tofind his way back to the fort alone and with a badly broken leg.

"Ravenous" has several delicious (pardon thepun) twists, and I don't want to give too much away, but suffice to sayBoyd starts to feel the overwhelming urge to partake in ritualistic cannibalismafter making a survival decision in the wake of the cave carnage. Then,when he makes it back to the fort he finds his new commanding officer isno stranger to this same hunger.

The second half of the film is a matter of Boyd's strengthto resist this compulsion, and Pearce is brilliantly uncertain in his conviction.

Carlyle also give a calculating, evasive performance asthe frightened settler who turns out to be a startling kind of monster.There's an "Interview with the Vampire" element to the relationshipbetween these two men, Carlyle being something of a Lestat to Pearce'sLouis.

After a bit of comedic unease in the early going, directorAntonia Bird, who worked with Carlyle on "Priest," successfullybalances the film with ironic humor while maintaining a frightful facadethat likens itself to another movie about a mad cannibal -- "Silenceof the Lambs."

Aided by a oddly playful yet creepy accordion-and-banjoscore by Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn, "Ravenous" is a littleimpudent in what it finds funny, but eventually settles into a facetious,Coen Brothers-style sense of humor.

Meanwhile, the darker elements of the movie make sportof the fear the film has been building in the audience, taking cues fromhorror movies for the last act showdown between reluctant hero Boyd andnot only his cannibalistic nemesis, but his own growing appetite for flesh.

Director Bird makes good use of the winter setting, bringingforward the harshness of the elements and giving every scene a cold, uncomfortableair that helps keep the audience edgy. And while the comedy seems questionableat first, she manages to bring it nicely into balance with the psychologicalterror at the center of the story.

"Ravenous" is definitely not a movie for thosewho don't consider themselves blessed with a sick sense of humor, but ifyou think you can stomach the topic of cannibalism with all it's visualaccouterments, it is an appetizing thriller.



Ravenous

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th March 1999

Budget: $12M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, ETIC Films, Engulf & Devour Productions Inc., Fox 2000 Pictures, Heyday Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Captain John Boyd, as Colonel Ives / F.W. Colqhoun, as Private Cleaves, as Private Toffler, as Private Reich, as Knox, Joseph Runningfox as George, Bill Brochtrup as Lindus, as Martha, as Col. Hart, as Gen. Slauson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.