DVD Review: The Revenant

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Today we’ve got a bit of zombie horror fare that’s a little out of left field, thanks to our friends out at Lionsgate who sent over a copy of “The Revenant” for us to review. It’s always a bit exciting when old concepts can be done in a whole new way, but there’s always the concern that the execution can’t cash the check written by the concept. Will that be the case here?

“The Revenant” joins Bart Gregory, soldier killed in the line of duty. Buried with full honors. Suddenly…wandering around? This isn’t normal by the least, so Bart goes to his old friend Joey to find out what the deal is with his sudden recovery from…death. Turns out that Bart has become what’s known as a “revenant”, a kind of ghoul that feeds on the blood of the living in order to keep himself from decomposing. Naturally, nothing else is going to put him under short of a sudden shortage of plasma, so to get the blood he so desperately needs to keep him upright and wandering about, Bart and Joey turn vigilante, figuring they can clean up the streets that killed Bart and get him the blood he needs to stay, well, undead rather than just plain dead. But as you’ve likely figured out, Bart’s blood-rampage won’t be quite so easy as insert tube A into neck B.

The last time I saw a movie best described as a “horror-action-comedy” was “Zombieland.” We all know how “Zombieland” turned out. This won’t be quite the uproarious, hyperkinetic riot that “Zombieland” was–it’s a little more “Shaun of the Dead” than anything–and it’s actually kind of light on the action, too. Frankly, this is a bit disappointing. Takes about half the movie for them to actually discover that Bart is secretly immune to bullets, and that’s way, way too long. Needs more “undead vigilante”, and a lot less “let’s discuss the nature of my possible infirmity”.

While the second half is much sharper overall than the first half, it’s still kind of unpleasant to wade through the slow, mushy mess that is the first half. Still though, the second half is indeed worth the cost of admission that is the first half.  It keeps its humor mostly throughout, and does a nice job of injecting some unexpected drama into the proceedings, but it’s hard to deny that this thing has a massive problem in the form of a first half that’s slow at best, poorly done at worst. The last ten minutes or so are an unquestioned delight of disturbing horror.

Still, “The Revenant” is well worth watching, if for no other reason than its magnificent second half. You’ll wade through a lot to get there, but the end result will prove well worth it.

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