Director: Antonia Bird
Starring: Guy Pierce, Robert Carlyle, Jeffrey Jones, David Arquette
As I’m sitting here about to write a review on a film from 1999 it’s once again dawned on me that the horror industry may be in trouble. I mean, Ravenous did a measly $2 million dollars at the box office fifteen years ago and I’d rather review it than the latest horror flick out in box offices right now (which if I’m not mistaken is Ouija—my expectations are pretty low….). Are we just getting old or is our youth getting dumber and therefore more easily entertained by shiny objects and lousy films?
Ravenous is a story about cannibalism, and it’s smartly done in my opinion. It doesn’t leave you feeling dirty like some other cannibalism films do. The film follows Second Lieutenant Boyd, played by Guy Pierce, during the Mexican-American War as he takes on a new assignment at Fort Spencer, high in the Sierra Nevada range in California.
Fort Spencer is run by a skeleton crew of soldiers and a couple of local Indians, and soon a stranger wonders into the camp, near death from exposure. The stranger, a man who calls himself Colqhoun, tells a story of how his wagon train became lost in the mountains. The group, led by another soldier named Colonel Ives, has to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. After hearing Colqhoun’s story the soldiers at Fort Spencer determine that it’s their duty to find the cave in which Colqhoun travelled from and investigate his story.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! Colqhoun leads a team of soldiers to the site, at which point we discover that Colqhoun actually murdered and ate the rest of the group, and has led the soldiers of Fort Spencer to the site as a trap. He kills all of the party except for Lieutenant Boyd, who only escapes by jumping off of a cliff, breaking his leg in the process. Boyd lays in a shallow crevice for several days with another dead soldier before he eventually eats a bit of his fallen comrade’s flesh to survive and limps his way back to Fort Spencer. He attempts to tell the story to the remaining soldiers but nobody believes him. Soon a new commander shows up at the fort and it’s Colqhoun, calling himself Colonel Ives!
The story culminates with Colonel Ives explaining that he’d had tuberculosis and upon hearing the Indian legend of the Wendigo, and how consuming another man’s flesh can grant someone inhuman powers of regeneration led him to a life of cannibalism. His intention is to use Fort Spencer as a constant source of food, and he forces Boyd to make the decision to become a cannibal as well. The film ends with Boyd deciding that he can’t live as a Cannibal and he and Ives fight their way to an ironic climax in which they’re both presented with a decision to eat the other one, depending on who dies first.
Here’s some more of my likes for this one:
- The soundtrack is awesomely weird! It totally doesn’t fit with the film, and that somehow makes it cool. There have been other movies that have had this effect on me too (see anything from the Seventies directed by Charles B. Pierce)
- The gore is smartly done in this one. It’s classy.
- Jeffrey Jones is in this!
- So is Jeremy Davies!
- It borders on being a black comedy, which is always fun. More importantly, it really sparked an interest in the Wendigo legend for me so I’m doing some extra research now. Learning is fun!!!
This one is worth seeing. I can practically guarantee you’ll be smiling at the end, and this is a cannibal movie for Pete’s sake!