Alright, I have to ask – Why do so many fantastic films get caught in studio limbo while utter garbage is seemingly churned out on a daily basis? Why did it take three long years of anticipation before I could get my hands on a copy of Kerry Prior’s The Revenant? In 2009 alone, Prior demolished the New York City Horror Film Festival by winning Best Director, having both David Anders and Chris Wylde tie for Best Actor, scoring the Audience Choice Award, and finished by capturing Best Feature honors. Yet a film like Area 407 got a full featured release first?!
Well, after a three-year wait I was finally given a chance to see what all the hoopla was about, and boy can I say the wait was worth it. Horror fans everywhere, heed my recommendation and add Prior’s film to your must see list immediately, you’ll thank yourself afterward.
Right off the bat, director Kerry Prior makes a brilliant choice by introducing his half human/half undead hybrid called a “Revenant.”
Poor Bart (David Anders) gets killed during an ambush in Afghanistan, but is granted a second life as a reanimated corpse. Now unlike a regular zombie, Bart can still talk and function within the boundaries of his decaying corpse. Also missing is his lust for human flesh, instead only feeding on the blood of his victims to prevent further physical deterioration. Third and foremost, Bart is only animated during the day, using the night to satiate his thirst for our sweet nectar. In layman’s terms, Bart is a zombie/vampire mixture capable of mass destruction while stuck in a humanistic lifestyle. Numerous films like Fido have already attempted to pair up unturned humans with the brain-dead version of walkers we’re so accustomed to, but Prior’s spin offers a character with relatable traits instead of a hunkering lug with no connectable characteristics.
Prior then enters dangerous territory, setting up a best friend comedy dynamic between the slacker human Joey (Wylde) and his undead best friend Bart. Again, we’ve seen this kind of set up before: kooky shenanigans begin, the human has to cover up for his dead friend, people find out – all old news. Instead, Prior’s story turns Bart and Joey into comic superheroes of sorts, balancing gritty crime fighting action with foolish buddy cop antics. The Revenant blended horror and comedy in a style reminiscent to how The Boondock Saints blended action and comedy in the same story of vigilantism, which in my book is a tremendous compliment.
All would have been lost without two killer performances by the unlikely duo of Chris Wylde and David Anders, who were a match made in heaven – err I mean hell. Lets start with Anders though, selected to play a half dead vigilante dealing with bodily decomposition. If ever one of my friends tried to deal with becoming a Revenant, I believe they would act exactly how Bart did. Now, of course there’s no way to actually know considering I’ve never met a Revenant, but that’s just how convincing and into character David Anders submerged himself.
Chris Wylde also finds his niche in the horror comedy genre, playing off Anders’ undead antics as a true friend would. Wylde’s stoner sensibilities are a perfect fit for the character of Joey and the perfect counter personality for Bart, bringing goofball comedy into the mix in the most opportune moments. Again, for any Boondock Saints fans out there, Joey is your Rocco. Lovable, wacky, and full of the great ideas which perpetuate Bart’s circumstances.
The one stuttering point which didn’t stick fully pertains to Bart’s relationship with girlfriend Janet (Louise Griffiths). I’m not one to write off romantic inclusions based on some biased hatred against the genre, but her undying love for Bart – albeit sweet – felt like a protrusion in the overall story. The Revenant gets a little sappy in this sense, but Janet also opens the door for some pretty funny exchanges later in the film, so all is forgiven.
Not to leave the horror nerds scratching their heads at my rambling so far, Prior of course includes plenty of genre based fun as well. Everyone involved in Makeup and Effects deserves a round of applause, as audiences watch Bart turn thugs into the equivalent of a zombie juice box. The Revenant isn’t a scary horror film by any means for typical fans, but all the great staples of the genre exist in Prior’s film, including realistic rotted flesh and gore. Anders looks phenomenal in his undead state, right down to the milky white eyes which detail the character of Bart with stunning creativity.
For all these reasons, The Revenant will surely garner a cult classic status in only a short amount of time. Prior’s command of numerous genres is impressive, avoiding pitfalls which might cause one to outweigh the other. I was laughing and loving every single minute of undead heroism, watching two bumbling friends dispatch of low-lives in a previously ignored manner. It’s becoming harder and harder these days to find a gem like the one Kerry Prior has created here, but at least there’s one more film which proves the horror genre is far from dead.
Not only that, but Prior proves there’s still loads of fun to be had within the horror genre, making usual “Boobs, Blood, and Guts” knock offs seem like mindless exploitation. The Revenant is full of life, displays magnificent story telling from both a writing and directorial sense, was enjoyably well acted, and is sneakily one of the smarter horror comedies created in the past few years.
Next time, let’s make sure such a wonderful film doesn’t take three years to be unearthed.