J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Revenant: the Slacker Undead

If a stoner rises from the dead as a zombie, would anyone notice the difference?  Two slackers try to carry on as usual when one suddenly finds himself undead and rather parched, but the constant proximity with death has serious repercussions in D. Kerry Prior’s meathead buddy horror mash-up, The Revenant (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Bart Gregory would like to think he shipped off to Iraq for idealistic reasons, but the truth is he was trying to avoid making a commitment to his longtime girlfriend Janet.  Thanks to a rather murky ambush, he won’t have to.  It would seem Gregory is dead as a doornail, but he is actually undead.  Staggering out of his grave and into his loser best friend Joey Leubner’s crash pad, Gregory struggles to come to terms with his new existence as a “revenant.”  He can no longer keep down solid food, but it seems vast quantities of pot and booze are A-OK.  For sustenance though, he will need human blood. 

No problem—this is Los Angeles.  There is an unlimited supply of violent low lives in need of killing.  Suddenly, the boys are vigilante media sensations.  Unfortunately, Gregory and Leubner are really sloppy about their hunting practices, leading to all kinds of bad karma—and of course, gore.

Though it opens in Iraq, Prior largely resists the urge to pontificate on current events.  These are not allegorical zombies.  That’s the good news.  However, The Revenant really does not have any ideas to take the place of didactic soap-boxing.  Prior offers several scenes of truly inspired gross-out humor, but the in-between periods are rather slack and dreary.

Still, David Anders plugs away admirably as the nice guy walking dead, keeping viewers somewhat invested in the grisly story.  On the other hand, before it is over, the audience will be ready to rise up collectively, like pitchfork wielding peasants, to put a stake through the heart of Chris Wylde’s annoying as all get-out Leubner.

The Revenant built up quite a rep with cult movie fans through a series of well received midnight festival screenings.  Frankly, that is the best venue for the film, catering to lubricated crowds primed to laugh and holler.  It simply will not hold up as well for comparatively staid regular theatrical audiences.  The Revenant has its moments, but not nearly enough for a ringing endorsement when it opens today (8/24) in New York at the Cinema Village.

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