I've been holding off on reviewing Ravenous for quite a while, mainly because it's one of my favorite films, and partly because I felt I needed to gain a semblance of viewer trust before I went off on a tangent about how incredible this film is. You see, I want you to want to see this film the minute you finish this review. Not because I stand to gain anything from it, but simply because I want to share this little-seen gem with every fan out there and help to elevate Ravenous to the cult status it deserves. Wish me luck!
----------------SPOILERS AHEAD!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!-------------------
After an act of cowardice leads to an unearned promotion (he was the soul survivor of a battle because he hid beneath the bodies of his fallen comrades only to emerge and catch the enemy off guard when the hiding became too much to handle) Captain John Boyd (Pearce) is sent to Fort Spencer, a distant outpost, as a sort of quiet punishment during the Mexican/American War. When a stranger stumbles into camp identifying himself as F.W. Colqhoun (Carlyle), the lone survivor of a group headed west under the guidance of a madman named Colonel Ives. It seems that the Colonel had gotten the group lost, went mad, and then resorted to cannibalism when they ran out of food. The modest compliment of the fort's troops accompany Colqhoun back to the cave from which he escaped, but when they arrive it becomes obvious that Colqhoun is hiding something.
The camp's commanding officer, Colonel Hart (Jones) orders Boyd and Private Toffler (Jeremy Davies) to investigate the cave, and, deep within its confines, they discover the remains of several bodies, including what appears to be Colonel Ives. Before they can warn the others, Colqhoun attacks the remaining soldiers outside, tearing them apart with beastly ferocity! Boyd and Toffler emerge only to hear the distant screams of one of their mates being chased by Colqhoun into the woods. Boyd becomes instantly terrified while Toffler gives chase, ending in both of them plunging from a cliff where Toffler dies and Boyd breaks his leg. After laying in the pit for days, Boyd finally gives into his primal instincts and carves off chunks of Toffler's flesh and eats. Boyd feels oddly energized from this shameful act, heals up quickly, and returns to the fort where he tells everyone the tale of Colqhoun. When the army general's arrive to investigate, they return with a new interim commanding officer.
One Colonel Ives.
Since Boyd is the only survivor of the massacre by Colqhoun, he is the only one who knows that the man sent to take charge of the camp is a killer and cannibal, but when Ives senses that Boyd has developed the taste for blood, he hopes to enlist him in his personal army, using the Fort as a cover for picking off unknowing settlers heading out west, turning some into cannibals while storing others away for "future use".
Ravenous is a hybrid western/cannibal flick with an amazing cast, wonderfully direction from Antonia Bird and a truly mesmerizing and appropriately quirky soundtrack written by Damon Alburn (of Blur fame), Stephen Foster, and Michael Nyman. I stumbled across this film during a late night run on cable television a few years back, and it just completely blew me away. I had to have it on DVD, and plunked down north of $30.00 dollars for it back then! Now, re-released at a bargain price (SRP $14.99), this disc is finally available to the masses for less than half of its original retail tag!
The Fox DVD extras include 3 audio commentaries, a batch of deleted scenes, a production design gallery, trailers, and a stills gallery, but, surprisingly, nothing by way of behind the scenes doco stuff! Still, this is a very nice package, and, at the new price point, well worth it! The audio and video transfer is superb, and really shines when the gorgeous score washes over you through the speakers.
I cannot recommend this film highly enough, and urge anyone who has yet to see Ravenous to drop what they are doing immediately and run (knock down old ladies if you have to) to the store and snatch it up. It's one of the most entertaining and unique films I've ever had the pleasure to see.
Bon Appetite!! :P