The Revenant (2009)

Even as I write this, I can feel it happening. I can feel myself turning. I’m forgetting things, slipping. Not…long…now…

Ugh. I had to open my fucking mouth. While daycare has not yet gotten wise to our little disease vector, karma went and smote me a good one. I’m getting sick, which is apparently what happens when your kid can’t breathe and you attempt to suck the snot out of her nose with your mouth. Being a parent is not for the squeamish. Having kids will fucking murder your squeam. Shows like Fear Factor must not cast new parents. I can’t imagine having trouble eating a cockroach after bare-handing the mudslides that come out of my kid’s ass.

Unlike my wife and daughter, my version of this cold is creeping up on me all slow and deliberate, so I get to enjoy every agonizing minute of my descent into fevered, scratchy throat oblivion. In the spirit of Halloween, I plan to do exactly what I would do if I was bitten by a zombie and had only hours to live: slack off at work while spending as much time as possible in close proximity to people I can’t stand. BRAAAAIINNNS.

Good thing they waited until dark to cover the grave. Standard cemetery operating procedure.

The story: Just like the guys in Kill List, Bart is an Iraq war vet. Unlike the guys in Kill List, Bart didn’t survive the war. Killed in an ambush set up by the old “you ran over my naked baby” trick, Bart comes home to a military funeral only to discover he isn’t all the way dead. After the obligatory “This can’t be happening, man!” scene, Bart and his stoner pal, Joey, decide to make the best of his second chance. Unfortunately the dead can’t survive on people food, so Bart has a bit of a problem if he wants to keep from decomposing.

Dude, where’s my heartbeat? Where’s your heartbeat, dude.

Biggest letdown: It’s usually a good sign when a horror movie has a two-hour runtime. It means at least somebody believed in the film enough to distribute it as-is, without cramming it into to a Procrustean 90-minute cut. Unfortunately, it can also mean the movie was so unloved no one bothered to sift through it to separate the wheat from the trash. As you may have guessed, The Revenant is the latter. It could have been a great 20-minute short, or maybe even a 40-minute episode of Masters of Horror, but it completely fails when stretched to feature length (and beyond). For example, it takes almost 45 minutes to establish Bart’s dietary needs, though it could have been done in five. The first time he barfs at the taste of his favorite food is more than enough. We don’t need a second and third meal to figure out he can’t eat food. (Though the gallons of blood he vomits up are pretty funny. The first time.)

Let’s try feeding you burgers instead of pizza. Chicken fingers?

The excess is equally pervasive on a smaller scale as well. Just as the movie as a whole suffers from a sluggish, meandering structure that kills its own momentum time and again, individual scenes are painfully drawn out. Overwrought jokes like a hulking black liquor store robber quoting Louis Farrakhan are given huge chunks of screentime, as if they were brilliant comedic set pieces essential to the story. Not so: that scene is the SECOND time Bart is shot during an attempted robbery. Only this time around, he finally realizes bullets don’t kill him and there might be a way to use this immunity to his advantage. If only there were a way to accomplish that in one scene instead of two. Say, for example, having him figure it out in one scene instead of two.

FarraKHAAAAANNNN!

Why you should watch: The Revenent suffers from massive architectural flaws that make it virtually unwatchable to all but the most devoted fans of action-horror-comedies. (Act-Ho-Coms. TRADEMARKED.) Yet it manages to do one thing that’s more or less new. Bart’s body decomposes like a zombie, but his higher brain functions remain intact. He feasts not on human flesh but human blood, more like a vampire. But while sunrise makes him pass out, it otherwise doesn’t harm him. Joey settles on calling him a revenant, which he says is defined as any risen human spirit in corporeal form. (Note: false.) I would have gone combo style – something like vambie or zompire – but whatever they call it they’re basically inventing a whole new subclass of undead. Even if writer/director D. Kerry Prior doesn’t put the unique traits of his creation to any interesting uses, that’s at least worth something. Zompire!

Organ donor? Yes, please.

Memorable Moment: What do you get when you need an electrolarynx but all you have is a big, pink vibrator? At an hour and forty minutes in, you get the first legitimately funny physical gag in the movie. Also, if you google electrolarynx, the second hit is a company called Lauder. Their slogan is, “We have ways of making you talk.” Gotta respect that.

Choice quote: “Bart, you’re clearly not Bigfoot. You’re way too short. You’re not covered in hair. Your feet are too small.”

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4 Responses to “The Revenant (2009)”

  1. […] The Revenant – Thanks, but I’d revanot. […]

  2. […] not so much that I’ve gone squeamish. As I said last year, having a baby is not for the faint of heart. I just don’t find as much value in ever more convincing ways to eviscerate actors in high […]

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