Reviewed by Erik W. Van Der Wolf
Starring David Anders, Chris Wylde, Cathy Shim, Louise Griffiths
Written and directed by D. Kerry Prior
Doing this job, you get to see a lot of movies. I mean – A LOT of movies. Unfortunately most of them are bad, which tends to sour one’s expectations. But, every once in a while, you go to a screening and come out not only pleasantly surprised, but also reinvigorated. Such is the case with The Revenant, a horror black comedy I was fortunate enough to see at the Zompire Undead Film Festival held here in Portland, Oregon, last weekend.
Written and directed by Kerry Prior — who directed the 1996 film Roadkill and has had an extensive career in visual effects, working on such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Phantasm II & III, and The Abyss — the story centers on Bart (David Anders of Alias), a soldier killed in action whose body has been sent home to Los Angeles for burial. During his funeral we meet Bart’s fiancé, Janet (Louise Griffiths, soon to be seen in Tekken), whom he was to marry upon his return from active duty, and his BFF, Joey (Chris Wylde of Film Fakers, who is taking the loss of his friend very hard.
And since this film premiered at the Undead Film Festival, I’m sure you guessed by now Bart doesn’t stay buried for very long. After clawing his way out of his grave, Bart seeks Joey’s help in trying to figure out what exactly has happened to him. And after a series of mostly failing experiments, the duo determine that Bart is a revenant, a reanimated corpse who feeds not on human flesh, but human blood, which also helps reverse the decaying process. So all they have to do is keep Bart flush with human go juice and they can go along like this whole death thing never even happened.
The only problem? Human blood isn’t exactly easy to come by, and it’s at this point where the movie really takes off and Kerry Prior shows he has real game as a writer and director, as the duo stumble into one predicament after another seeking different avenues to sate Bart’s thirst and try to prevent Bart’s fiancée from learning about his return from the grave.
While I’ve never been a big fan of horror comedy (with a few exceptions), Prior’s script is incredibly well written and very infectious, and one can’t help but crawl into the palm of his hand and let him take you on this ride. The dialogue interplay between Bart and Joey is played pitch perfect, and Prior handles the comedic beats like a veteran. As with most horror comedies, the gore elements go more for the gross-out than shock value, but Prior does well to stop short of slapstick, which far too often mars these kinds of films.
The performances by David Anders and Chris Wylde are spot on, and their chemistry radiates on screen. Kerry Prior has created something that is sure to become a cult classic and, most importantly, answers the age old question: “How does a severed head talk?” The answer is both original and utterly hilarious.
The Revenant (official site here) will most likely get a limited release on the festival circuit this fall before it hits DVD. If you get the chance, definitely check this one out on the big screen with an audience.
5 out of 5
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