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Combining elements of everything from An American Werewolf in London to Zombieland to Death Wish, D. Kerry Prior’s horror comedy features the intriguing premise of zombies turned vigilantes. The sort of effort that attracts lots of attention at horror film festivals–where it’s been kicking around for three years–and seems specifically designed to achieve cult status, The Revenant ultimately suffers from an uneven execution and repetitive overload. But it’s hard to totally dismiss a horror film that includes a scene of a disembodied head talking with the help of a vibrating dildo applied to its throat.
The film begins realistically enough, with American soldier Bart (David Anders) falling victim to an ambush while serving in Iraq. His body is shipped home and buried, but he soon rises from the grave and seeks the company of his best friend, Joey (Chris Wylde), a slacker type with a wisecrack for every occasion.
And this occasion certainly prompts plenty of them, as the pair comically tries to deal with the fact that Bart is now a “revenant,” a sort of combination vampire/zombie who’s both undead and has an insatiable thirst for blood. At first they try to satisfy Bart’s urges by stealing blood from a hospital, but when they stumble on a convenience store robbery and kill the assailant, another solution comes to mind. They’ll roam L.A.’s streets at night and do away with bad guys, thereby providing Bart with a steady supply of fresh blood from their victims and solving the city’s crime epidemic in the process.
It’s a clever gimmick, made more so when Joey also becomes a revenant after one of the duo’s crime-stopping efforts goes wrong. Reveling in their immortality, they becomes sort of undead superheroes, albeit ones who quickly lose perspective when their literal bloodlust gets the better of them.
Running nearly two hours, the film eventually wears out its welcome, especially in its endless scenes of vigilante-style violence that reveal some uncomfortable racial overtones. But the freewheeling profane banter does display flashes of anarchic wit, and the ultra-gory special effects are extremely impressive despite having been executed on an obviously low budget.
Opens August 24 (Paladin Films)
Production: Putrefactory, Lighting Entertainment
CAST: David Anders, Chris Wylde, Louise Griffiths, Jacy King
Director/screenwriter/editor: D. Kerry Prior
Producers: Liam Finn, D. Kerry Prior, Jacques Thelmaque
Director of photography: Peter Hawkins
Production designer: Thomas William Hallbauer
Costume designer: Charlotte Kruse
Rated R, 110 min.
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