It is hard for me to not gush when I talk about this film. I am so entirely obsessed with this movie because it transcends from good ‘horror’ movie to good movie overall. My boyfriend loathes horror films and I convinced him to watch this one with me over the weekend and he loved it. Not to say that it isn’t scary, but the story is so engrossing that I believe most people, horror fan or not, will enjoy this film. Lucky for you all, it is now available to stream on Netflix. So get watching! But first, give me those few minutes to gush.
Ravenous follows the story of Captain John Boyd (played by Guy Pearce) during the Mexican-American War in 1847. He is very affected by all the bloodshed and war he has experienced so he is sent to a fruitless outpost in California that houses only eight other people. Once he is settled into the mundane, things shake up when a man named Colqhoun shows up on their doorstep, frostbitten, and on the brink of death. He has barely survived the rough, snowy terrain for nearly three months without food. How is that possible? “I said without food but I didn’t say there was nothing to eat.” Colqhoun says that he and his traveling crew remained famished on the trail, eating horses, ox and dogs and when the first man died from malnourishment they cooked his legs for dinner. After eating human flesh their hunger became more severe, savage, and ravenous. After hearing this story, Captain Boyd and the soldiers hit the trail with Colqhoun to search for another possible surviving victim of these terrors.
The plot development mentioned above involves the first thirty minutes of the film. From that point forward, the film tastes a sinister and chilling turn. But what really brings this already enthralling plot to a new level is the original score music performed by Michael Nymanas’s Foster’s Social Orchestra. According to a post on IMDb, the “group attempted to create a post-modern, avant-garde sound by having artists with a background other than music perform the works of Stephen Foster in an untrained but inspired way.” There is no way to really describe the music, but it adds so much spookiness that it literally gives me goose bumps during certain disturbing scenes. Without this soundtrack, I would only give this film an 8 out of 10 instead of the 10 out of 10 I give it now.
The superb cast (Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, David Arquette, Jeremy Davies, Jeffrey Jones, Neal McDonough, and more) is extraordinary and convincing, paired with a realistic historical set and scenery makes you feel like you are transported to this time and place. Each character is distinct even though there isn’t a lot of time for development. There is an old Indian myth that eating another man’s flesh steals the man’s essence and spirit, creating an insatiable hunger for flesh and power. This myth, along with the phenomenal casting, costuming, and attention to detail gives a feeling of authenticity that is nearly believable making it that much more frightening.
I’m sure you all know by now that I love a good cannibal story and set in a time when hunger is a daily struggle, it would be hard to resist the temptation of a food source that nourishes not only the body but the soul. Give in to the madness. You must kill to live. And it will be a bloody battle to the death. Moments of extreme brutality surround this colorful story. This unbearable tension is matched, or relieved, by moments of uncomfortable, dark humor. I like to think of Ravenous as Deliverance meets The Last of the Mohicans meets Hannibal. This tale of hunger, craving, survival, power, and morality is flawless from beginning to end and the fact that Guy Pearce is sexy isn’t a bad bonus either.
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