Thread: Ravenous (1999)
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Old 13th April 2016, 04:44 PM
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Default Ravenous (1999)

Ravenous (1999)


During the Mexican-American War (1846 1848), US captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) inadvertently takes a Mexican stronghold singlehandedly by playing dead as all his comrades died around him. His superiors realize this but also know he has to be promoted due to his exploits so send him high into the Sierra-Nevada mountains to take command of a secluded outpost. A skeleton crew currently reside there lead by Jeffrey Jones. Once firmly in place, a stranger named Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle) turns up, wounded and hungry with a tale so sickening.... I'm going to leave it there, don't want to spoil things.


The late Antonia Bird's film, whilst blackly comic is also grim and eerily disturbing. The idea that eating human flesh rejuvenates the body provides chills but also a wealth of sly smirks. The film has some fantastic scary moments and the whole thing is thoroughly gripping. Witness the scene where Boyd and Reich (Neal McDonough) enter the cave. This as good a sequence of horror film making as you're likely to come across. Claustrophobic, tense and with a sickening pay off at the end of it.

The soundtrack from Michael Nyman and Blur frontman Damon Albarn is remarkable. At once placing you in the 1840's yet also feeling ever so slightly contemporary, and it's often simple yet avante-garde arrangements once heard aren't easily forgotten


The cast seem to have a whale of a time. Robert Carlyle is so convincing when he tells how human flesh makes you stronger, you'll be looking at the person next to you with a slight pang of hunger in your stomach...especially when Bird shows us the stew. The characters, of which there are quite a few, are all well written and given their own personality by the sharp script, even those with few lines come over as fully rounded people. Guy Pearce who along with Carlyle has top billing, gives a performance that's so understated, so underplayed that you fear he might get ushered away off set by some jobsworth when filming begins.

The film is morally dubious but it shows no fear in asking the question Eat! Live or die? Yet it's this area where the humour lies, Antonia Bird showing us that (in)human excess has always existed and isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

Whilst the film isn't out and out gore like the Italian cannibal films of the 70's it is at times startling in it's brutality. The final showdown between Carlyle and Guy Pearce is as savage and gut wrenching as anything mainstream cinema has offered us.

Ravenous is one of those films you either 'get' straight away or you don't. It's a rare example in that it's a film unlike anything else i think i've seen.

You know... That stew did look immensely satisfying!

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