Re:View – ‘The Revenant’

The Arts

I was recommended this by my ever-reliable arbiter of exquisite bad taste, novelist and film critic Kim Newman. Saying that he knows a thing or two about the movies is like saying Hitler was quite fond of maps. He reckoned ‘The Revenant’ because it did something so few films do now – it surprises at every turn.

Officer First Class Bart (David Anders) is killed in Iraq under strange circumstances, and is shipped home to a hero’s funeral and a grieving family. He never proposed to his girlfriend, so she feels there was no closure. His best friend Joey and her best friend Wiccan Matti are devastated.

But Bart isn’t dead. He’s – well, that’s the trouble. He’s not sure what he is. After snipping open his sewn-up lips and checking his frankly disturbing eyes in the mirror, he heads for Joey’s skanky house, coughing up pints of black goo, and horrifies his lowlife pal – and you think you’re in for a comedy zombie shamblefest like ‘Fido’. Instead Bart collapses, dying for certain this time.

But he awakes on the slab, and returns to Joey’s house exactly as before while the pair try to figure out what he is. Not a zombie or a vampire but a fully cognisant revenant aware of the awfulness of his situation, who may need blood to stay alive. And Bart wants to live long enough to say the things he should have said when he still had his internal organs.

What he doesn’t know is that Joey slept with his girlfriend after the funeral, and as tensions rise there’s a fresh switch as the pair bond and accidentally become the scourge of LA’s underbelly. But director Kerry Prior is just warming up, opening the story into a grungy vigilante action movie before giving it a science fiction spin that scores a political point. Use of classical music and some expensive looking effects adds to the fun.

What Prior has done is make it all hilariously and horribly real, so instead of lazily referencing other movies, as directors in this field are liable to do, he adds depth and dignity to even the smallest walk-on parts. If there’s any justice this will become a cult hit and be the start of a long, illustrious career for former FX-man Prior.