By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
The Revenant is an odd bird, like seriously, head-scratchingly odd. It’s like the Dodo of the movie kingdom, just a whole lot of bizarre wrongness you can’t tear your eyes away from and also find strangely endearing.
Whos a widdle crime against the natural order? You are!
The Revenant is about an Iraq War casualty (David Anders) whose body is flown home for burial. His friends and girlfriend mourn him, but are perplexed when he awakens that night and shows up at his best bud’s (Chris Wylde) apartment. Frankly, so is he. What is he, and what to do now?
This film begins intriguingly at night in the middle of Iraq, setting up a moody horror film, then slam cuts to awkward situational comedy. It’s extreme, objectively terrible, and I loved it. People don’t make movies that give so few fucks like this very often, so each example has a special little place in my heart.
Here’s looking at you, kid.
Writer and director Kerry Prior clearly has plenty of ideas, a pitch black sense of humor, and a go for broke sensibility that compels him to put anything that comes into his mind on the screen. There are plenty of very funny, very unique scenes to choose from, in part because Anders’s lead performance grounds them so well. His performance as the living dead guy is strangely relatable and believable. He’s just a regular guy back from the dead. Now what?
Anders’s Zompire is actually significantly more believable than the fully human characters in the film. The rest of the cast’s performances feature more ham than a Virginian Easter potluck. Wylde is clearly going for some sort of Zach Galifianakis agent of chaos thing, but just doesn’t have the chops for it, but poor, poor Louise Griffiths is the worst. She’s like George Washington’s teeth- sexy and wooden.
Part of the problem might be the dialogue they have to work with, which seesaws between lackluster and awful. Prior has a great handle on visual humor, and his darker, more unexpected lines hit on occasion, but the majority of the written humor here is like a Jiminy family reunion- crickets… just crickets for days.
I guess in a way this film’s moral sense is in exactly the right place, because it illustrates exactly how reactionary glorifying vigilantism is. When they finally get around to showing a Caucasian criminal it feels like an “oops, all of our villains are Black and Latino” decision, and beyond that the film doesn’t even try to add any moral complexity to the situation. How to feed on the living without hurting innocents? Why, prey on the thousands of alley thieves that infest L.A. every night, of course!
The bottom clearly fell out of the budget at some point, or Prior met the guy that did the CGI green-screening for El Dorado, because all of a sudden The Revenant gets infested by incredibly cheesy backgrounds and fake muzzle flashes. It’s like Tim & Eric got ahold of this mofo.
The Revenant is an absolute tonal mess, but I kinda loved it. Hopefully Kerry Prior’s career doesn’t go the way of the dodo.
Take a Drink: for gun-collecting
Take a Drink: for every brutal line-reading
Take a Drink: for straight nastiness
Take a Drink: for any discussion of religion whatsoever
Take a Drink: when they succeed
Do a Shot: when you need it. Tolerances may vary