The Revenant


The Revenant
Directed by D. Kerry Prior
Opens August 24, Cinema Village

It's an axiom of commercial film that the more racist the bad guys are, the more awesome their deaths. But the unexpectedly reactionary The Revenant exploits the transitive property of Fox & Friends, which states that it's actually people of color who are the real racists, which is supposed to justify the cinematic slaying of ethnic minorities in hails of Caucasian bullets. Then apparently, you drink their blood—it's this whole weird thing. Written and directed by D. Kerry Prior, The Revenant features whitey-hating Latino muggers, whitey-hating, Farrakhan-quoting African-Americans, and an explicitly stated antipathy toward the homeless "dregs of the earth," who will spit through your car window if you suggest that they should do some work. Those people are gleefully slaughtered by two undead white dudes who seek out victims they judge deserving of cranially injected semiautomatic rounds. It's actually supposed to be crowd-pleasing. Bart (David Anders) is a soldier ambushed and killed in some vaguely Iraq-istan-ish part of California. Three weeks later, he crawls out of his grave and surprises his best friend, Joey (Chris Wylde), a supposed "charming California slacker" type. A constant irritating presence, Wylde gets most of the script's attempts at snappy jabber, but Michael Keaton's Bill Blazejowski (from Night Shift) would throw him out of a moving car. Together, they decide that Bart is some, like, half-zombie, half-vampire "revenant," and commence with the hunt for the most dangerous prey: nonwhites. The Revenant kind of aspires to be a horror-comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead but keeps tripping on its own misanthropy.

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I think someone needs to let Chris Packham in on the joke. It's true. The Revenant refuses to genuflect to the altar of political correctness, and that is one of the reasons that this film is so smart and provocative. It would have been more interesting if Packham had explored one of the many issues raised by Prior, instead of simply offering another tired dose of uncritical, knee-jerk, victim mentality protectionism.


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