Zombie movies aren't my fave, but I can swallow them if there's a dash of comedy and an ounce of wit. Shaun of the Dead and Fido, of course, are classics and I count them among my must-sees in the genre — and now, in the lower budget arena, I recommend The Revenant: it's an L.A. night-life zom-com bromance that's clever, gooey entertainment.
Lt. Bart Gregory (David Anders) has been KIA in Iraq during a creepy covert mission, but when his body arrives home it's not quite ready to rest in peace. The restless spirit (and body) escape the military morgue and head for Bart's BFF's bungalow in Hollywood. Joey (Chris Wylde) is surprised to see his buddy, to say the least, but he does what any friend would do when zombification is problematic: he Googles it. The internets predict Bart's a "revenant" — an undead something-or-other caught in a purgatory between life and death, and zombie and vampire.
But even revenants need love, so when Bart contacts his girlfriend Janet (Louise Griffiths), who just happens to have sought solace in the arms of Joey when she thought Bart was dead… well, let's just say even a wiccan priestess and relationship counselor (Mathilda, played by Jacy King) cannot rescue this mess. Things go from bad to worse when Bart and his sarcastic sidekick run afoul of gang-bangers robbing a liquor store in Korea-Town, and then from worse to hilarious when Joey asks Bart to bestow him with the "dark gift". Deed done, the pair head to Las Vegas in a pimped out hearse, but even in the city that never sleeps, their troubles are far from over.
I won't target specific jokes and gags, and set ups and skits (from Dirty Harry, to dildos), but I have to say… The Revenant is one of the few horror comedies that's managed to not only keep me entertained from start to finish — it's one of the few DVDs I have received for review that I actually wanted to hear the commentaries on, and watch the behind-the-scenes bits. The script was very funny, but what's more, the actors' comedic timing and chops, not to mention their capacity to sell the gore, pain and pathos, was outstanding. Writer / director Kerry Prior's background in special makeup is obvious and it was wise of him to choose a horror film to showcase himself, but unlike some E/fx guys, Prior can also tell a good story. It's the best successor to Cemetery Man out there, for sure (much better than Dylan Dog!).
I learned in the commentary that the beginning of the movie, showing how Bart was killed in Iraq, was requested by the studio; Prior says in the festival run, The Revenant kicked right into the story with Bart already undead. I think Prior's instincts were absolutely correct, as the film does stumble into the running, and it was also gratifying to learn how the cast came together, etc. It's a good commentary. There is also a separate, much goofier and carefree, commentary by cast members David Anders, Chris Wylde (hilarious; my favorite actor in the film, for sure), and Jacy King. To me, two commentaries is overkill, and I didn't listen to either one all the way through, but I'm sure there are some proud parents out there. As for the Making-of featurette, it was a bit different — told in ominous voice-over, mockumentary style… it almost works. There's also a good bit about the Camero, and the Hearse, for the gear-heads out there.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson