As you all know, I’m a pretty big deal in the blogging world. Such a big deal that I just spelled it “blooging” and had to go back and correct it. One of the privileges of being such a hot shot is sometimes getting movies sent to you accidentally when a movie distributor thinks you have something important to say. When I initially got The Revenant delivered to my apartment, I immediately went to the web (that’s what kids call the internet) to ask what the scuttlebutt (that’s what old people refer to as “gossip”) about the movie, and there were mixed opinions on it. I’d rather something be universally hated than have mixed reviews, because that generally means my opinion will fall somewhere in the middle and be able to see both sides of the argument. I think the biggest thing that scared me off was that someone had likened elements of The Revenant to elements in The Boondock Saints, which is a great movie if you’re a boy in high school. However, if you’re an adult who has adult thoughts about adult situations, then The Boondock Saints it complete garbage. Despite my desire to burn anything and everything related to The Boondock Saints, I realized I had a bunch of screeners to get through, so I decided to start here.
What do you mean it’s like Boondock Sai–oh, shit.
When a mission in Iraq goes wrong, Bart (David Anders) is shot and killed, much to the dismay of his girlfriend and best friend back home. After a month has passed, Bart wakes up in his grave, unsure of what’s going on, so he heads to best friend Joey’s (Chris Wylde) house. Bart isn’t quite a zombie, but isn’t quite a vampire, and is instead referred to as a “revenant”, which I’m pretty sure is where the movie got its name from. Bart and Joey celebrate this undead lifestyle with drugs and alcohol, and when a mugging goes wrong, Bart ends up getting shot. Realizing how ineffective it is to shoot someone who’s already dead, Bart turns the table on the mugger, drinks his blood and tosses him into a river. Bart and Joey then take on a lifestyle of vigilantism, with their secret weapon being that Bart can’t be killed. When a robbery leads to Joey getting shot, Bart steps in to suck his blood, turning Joey into a revenant as well. Now that the two of them can’t be killed, it’s almost like they’re unstoppable! Or at least, that’s what you’d THINK, but you’d be wrong. One of their original victims tracks them down, and Bart realizes this isn’t really a life that anyone should be leading, so he takes matters into his own hands to end his and Joey’s lives. His plan is mildly successful, until the military gets involved and turns Bart, along with some of his other victims, into weapons that are then deployed back to Iraq! It’s almost like this movie was cyclical or something!
I can completely understand how The Revenant could be so divisive with viewers, as I felt like every strength the movie had was canceled out by one of its weaknesses. One of the stronger, more horrific sequences was the opening, in which a small child is hit by a car, and through nightvision, Bart sees the child get back up from laying down, crying, covered in blood. Although we’ve seen injured children in films before, I think it was the fact that this little kid obviously wasn’t acting, but genuinely crying, but it was the blood that was manufactured that made that sequence really creepy. The whole concept of the movie is pretty strong, as the story is relatively contained to these two characters, and you do see a lot of sequences of them just fucking around with their new-found abilities. They don’t plan on being superheroes of anything, they’re just taking down petty thugs one at a time. It’s not like Chronicle or Kick-Ass in that concept of people taking it upon themselves to fight crime, it’s a lot more of a necessity. These characters need blood, so they might as well kill bad guys and take THEIR blood. I’d say that the biggest flaw of the movie is the fact that it’s two hours long. TWO FUCKING HOURS. It’s pretty rare for a horror film with a gimmick like this to last that long, and also pretty rare for a successful comedy to be a full two hours, so to try a two hour horror comedy? It got pretty fucking brutal at times. I generally avoid looking at how much time a movie has left, but when I thought the movie had 20 minutes left, I looked at when it’d be over and THERE WAS A WHOLE FUCKING HOUR LEFT. Despite having a clever concept and having some decent physical comedy and snappy dialogue, the film really could have used an editor to make some of those bits a lot shorter. This movie could’ve been much more successful if it was a really tight 90 minutes, shortening everything just a little bit. The Revenant also won a bunch of different awards at different festivals, so despite how long the film was, I can see how fun it could be to watch with a huge audience who have no prior knowledge of the film. I had a similar experience while watching Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, having watched it at a 24 horror movie marathon and remembering it quite fondly, but on repeat viewings, I could see the flaws.
Matthew Lillard’s spirit in the body of a fake Nicolas Cage.
The film’s biggest detriment, in my opinion, was how casually they tossed around racial and sexual slurs for the purposes of comedy. I’m not easily offended, or better yet, I don’t know if I’ve EVER been offended by someone’s use of language for the sake of comedy. However, I do think there’s a difference between being offended and being disappointed at someone who has run out of synonyms to have to rely on some of the most hateful words that humans have come up with. One scene involved the two main characters trying to find a homeless person who was willing to “work for food”, and the first homeless person they found, when offered food in exchange for work, ended up responding with, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Who do you think I am, a n—-r?”, with those blanks being a slur for a black person. I don’t even want to type the actual word, that’s how much I fucking hate it. The scene was intended to be comedic, and that was the “tag” on the scene, if you will, and it just came across as lazy and offensive. Again, I’m not saying that you can’t use a word like that in any way you want, but I’m not going to think it’s funny when used to get a laugh. Similarly, in a different scene, Joey refers to Bart as a “faggot” very nonchalantly, again in a scene that’s supposed to be banter between two friends, but it was disgusting. I guess the argument could be made that the word was used intentionally to show Joey’s true character, as he has betrayed Bart by sleeping with Bart’s girlfriend, but is just came across as lazy writing. “Let’s use THIS word because it’s so taboo!” Ugh. Maybe I’m too much of a sissy or whatever word you feel like using or I’m too sensitive, but it’s just frustrating to have these hateful words be used to passively and generating intolerance, or at least trying to make intolerance seem funny. I think that were these slurs to have been removed, and the editing tightened up a bit, you could have had a really entertaining 90 minute horror comedy with some really interesting concepts, some original ideas, and solid special effects. Instead, we got this ambling film that didn’t know when to cut a joke short to leave the audience asking for more instead of saying “enough already”.
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