SHOCK reviews the brutal survivalist horror drama THE REVENANT.
BIRDMAN Director Alejandro G. Inarritus THE REVENANT, based on the novel by Michael Punke, is an unusual film and not your typical horror cinema experience; meshing elements of THE GREY, DJANGO UNCHAINED, LAST OF THE MOHICANS and even APOCALYPSE NOW its a survival tale that spirals into a savage revenge piece. Taking place mostly in the unexplored American wilderness circa 1832,THE REVENANT stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a frontiersman savaged in a vicious bear attack (not a bear rape! Fox has come out and publicly debunked this silly, circulating rumor) and left for dead by follow huntsmen John Fitzgerald (MAD MAX: FURY ROADs Tom Hardy) even though he is ordered to watch over Glass by their Captain and company man Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson, EX MACHINA, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.) At this point, THE REVENANT quickly descends into all-out madness, becoming a tale rebirth and brutal vengeance.
Inarritu’s film is certainly one of 2015’s best pictures and there is so much to appreciate here: the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki (CHILDREN OF MEN, GRAVITY) commands center stage; not since Lars Von Triers ANTICHRIST has the wilderness and the woods played such a powerful role, forging the films mood, tone and themes, horrific and beautiful.
Ryuichi Sakamotos (Academy Award winner for THE LAST EMPEROR) score is equally dominant; using repetition, its beautiful, hypnotic, terrifying and peaceful all at once. The acting is high calibre and impressive; DiCaprio is a joy to watch as he dissolves into insanity, delivering a primal presence. Hardy is also a nasty treat in a performance that echoes a more unhinged version of his Forest Bondurant character from John Hillcoats LAWLESS, a man harboring some terrible demons of his own. Gleeson is incredible as the wet-behind-the-ears Captain forging into uncharted wilderness for profit and duty.
Now, all this said, you might be wondering how THE REVENANT fits into the horror genre and how many shocks the flick offers the hardcore fan.
Bluntly put…plenty! THE REVENANT is a horror movie disguised as a drama; the tension is nail-biting, the gore is frighteningly realistic, abundant and graphic. The revenge narrative is poetic, the atmosphere lingers in the lungs, leaving one breathless and chilled like something you experience following the darkest work of Stanley Kubrick.
That said, there are a few hiccups that prevent the movie from reaching total perfection. There is an unimpressive CGI sequence involving a wolf pack taking down a massive bison. To be honest, the scene does not move the story forward (especially when factoring in the epic running time of 156 minutes) and could have easily been excised; the phony computer effects are distracting, especially when the films strength lies in realism and naturalistic awe. The cinematography is incredibly gorgeous, but there are brief moments when the visual style and technique become almost too self-aware and stylized, which may pull some viewers monetarily out of the captivating illusion. But these are only minor qualms.
THE REVENANT is tons of grisly fun and an unconventional horror film. See it when it hits limited theaters on Christmas Day before going wide on January 8th…