Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ravenous (1999)

Director: Antonia Bird
Writer:    Ted Griffin
Cast:       Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Davies

Captain John Boyd's (Guy Pearce) promotion stations him at a remote fort where a rescued man (Robert Carlyle) tells a disturbing tale of cannibalism. The film revolves around cannibalism in the 1840s California and some elements bear similarities to the story of the Donner Party and that of Alfred Packer.

The film could be described as a psychological thriller with elements of black comedy in it. There is some dubious use of comedic background music in it, especially during the big reveal, which kind of conveys that the film doesn't take itself too seriously and the audience should do the same. That said, there is some serious subtext to it regarding the cannibalizing nature of the Westward expansion of the US in terms of the effect that it had on the native Indians. The opening credits is similar to ones used in Westerns from the 60s, and even though it is set at a time that is typical of the genre, it is not at all stylistically same. The film is done in such a way that one could think of it as all happening in Boyd's head and not necessarily as anything mythic/supernatural. There is also some 'Antichrist' elements added to the character played by Robert Carlyle. Guy Pearce is a vegetarian in real life and had trouble while filming the meat eating scenes and used to spit them out after the director yelled 'Cut'. I think that actually might have helped enhance his performance in portraying the utter disgust.

Overall, it is a great and gory watch. Guy Pearce is a seriously underrated actor who should be in more films. Robert Carlyle is always great to watch and is famous for his role in Trainspotting as 'Begbie'. Cannibalism is a topic that is hardly touched upon by films meant for mainstream audience and that is very much like the way it is considered in society as well- a strict taboo subject. Ana Lily-Amirpour's (A Girl Walks Alone Home At Night) next film, The Bad Batch, is supposed to be a dystopian love story set in a community of cannibals. I haven't seen any other films from the director Antonia Bird and Robert Carlyle seems to be a constant fixture in them. She passed away recently in 2013, aged 62, and am thinking of checking out her debut feature film 'Priest' next. Female directors tend to get away with showing violence, at level 11, much more than their male counterparts and American Psycho is another such example of this.

Rating: 4/5