October Horror Movie a Day Challenge, Day 3: Ravenous (1999)

ravenous

Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce, Memento, L.A. Confidential) is fresh off a winning battle in the Mexican – American war.  His commanding officer knows that Capt. Boyd’s win was lacking to say the least.  Sent to a remote outpost, Boyd finds himself in a new kind of battle that will cost him his humanity after they are set upon by a charismatic cannibal named Ives (Robert Carlyle, Once Upon A Time, 28 Weeks Later). 

ravenous2Ravenous is a film I haven’t seen since the VHS days, and while I enjoyed it at the time, I didn’t love it.  But something it stuck with me through the years and after re-watching it, a lot of what I did like about the film came back to me.  There is an odd tone to this film and defies categorization and the musical score is so weird.  Roger Egbert said it’s a vampire film masquerading as a cannibal flick, and that’s a pretty good observation.  The believability in the situation despite the tonal shifts is helped by a group of talented thespians such as Jeffery Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), David Arquette (Former WCW Champion, Scream), Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan, Lost, the upcoming Twin Peaks reboot), Neal McDonough (Justified, Suits), and the late John Spencer (The West Wing, L.A. Law).  The group makes the film sometimes feel like a stage play more than a film, not that this is a bad thing, it’s just this is very much a film about the characters more so than gore/violence (despite it’s subject matter).  Robert Carlyle is phenomenal as the lead villain who goes from twitchy shyster to revealing himself as a very malevolent and commanding force as the story progresses.

The real star of the film though is the amazing film score by Damon Albarn and Micheal Nyman.  Some of it is period pieces from the era Ravenous takes place in, while some of it is an odd banjo score.  It helps give the film it’s off-kilter tone that help it move so effortlessly period drama to black comedy to morality play as Ives tries to coax Boyd into joining him in feeding on other humans.  The ending confrontation between the two contains this creepy, subtle, monotonous score that quietly amplifies the intensity of the climax.  Ravenous is a film that I will be re-watching sooner rather than later.

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