The horror/dramedy The Revenant received multiple awards at film festivals in 2009, yet its release has been delayed until just recently. That could either mean that it’s horribly bad or the studio that purchased it didn’t know what time to release it. Halloween? Summer? Post New Year’s Death Slot? It ended up going straight to video, so it can’t be that good, right?
Regardless of the fact that this flick has been a critical darling on all the movie websites I frequent daily, I wholeheartedly say that I cannot agree with any of them. This was boring, drawn out and pointless.
The story of an American soldier in Iraq who is gunned down, and when his body is shipped back to the US he awakens as a zombie/vampire hybrid known as a Revenant. In order to not decompose he needs to drink fresh human blood, so he enlists the assistance of his stoner roommate to help him get what he needs to survive. Together they decide to become a vigilante team that takes out local gang bangers and criminals.
It’s a decent set-up, but it takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get there. Taking your time to set-up characters and plot are great in my book, but when said characters talk about nothing and scenes are needlessly stretched out to breaking point for no apparent reason I have to call bullshit. Absolutely nothing of note goes on for the first hour of the flick’s unnecessarily long two-hour runtime.
Lead actor David Anders (of TV’s Once Upon A Time, Heroes and Alias) isn’t a bad actor. The problem is that he’s trying way too hard for this material. His character isn’t interesting or sympathetic in any way. The script tries to manipulate the audience into feeling that way about him, but it fails miserably. His co-star Chris Wylde, who plays Anders’ stoner pal, is way over the top when compared to his low-key performance. I can see that the director’s intention was to have a Laurel & Hardy type of duo here, but nothing they do or say is even remotely funny no matter how hard the screenplay tries to make the situations the characters find themselves in humorous.
Once the leads decide to become vigilantes I thought the film would take off and begin cashing in on it’s initial premise, but they are written as completely inept morons that can’t even take down a dude robbing a liquor store. Anders’ character cannot be killed by conventional means, so why is he afraid of being shot every time some asshat pulls a gun on him?! Why does he keep purchasing and drinking alcohol when he knows it will make him barf up his own blood, thus making him crave even more human blood to make up for it?! I don’t even remember there being a scene where Anders’ character realizes that he needs to drink blood to live. He just wanders into a blood bank at one point and attempts to rob it. Horrible, horrible writing!
And even as the film rushes toward its overly hokey climax and the two fools are finally able to dispense some justice the film takes a left turn and decides to throw some ridiculous statement about the government our way. By this point I was just waiting for it to end, but it just keeps on chugging along. This two-hour movie felt like four.
Writer/director D. Kerry Prior really needs to get someone to edit his screenplays for him. He writes his scenes in such a way that they get dragged out for way too long when the point he’s trying to hammer into our skulls could have been made in half the time. He also needs to start instructing his cinematographer to move his camera around once in a while. The “fly on the wall” style he uses here is one of the reasons the film is so freakin’ slow. During the liquor store robbery scene there’s one shot used for the whole shebang. It’s supposed to be scary and exciting, not overwhelmingly tedious.
When the movie ended I couldn’t believe that a lot of the critics, whose opinions I respect, were sucking off this flick so hard. I can see what the filmmakers were trying to do, but as far as I’m concerned they failed at every turn. What could have been a fun piece of genre mashing ended up being a test of my patience and half assed political commentary reminiscent of The Phantom Menace.
So I recommend that the next time you go to the Redbox looking for some direct-to-video gem that might have slipped through the cracks of the Hollywood machine… choose something that isn’t The Revenant. You’d be better off renting Mega Python vs. Gatoroid instead.