Ravenous movie review: Netflix zombie horror film creates some incredibly tense moments

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Mar,04 2018 13:28:30 IST


Canadian actor-director Robin Aubert’s French horror film Les Affamés, released under the English title Ravenous, is your typical zombie invasion movie, and has all the identifiable tropes that usually come with the genre. And yet, the film manages to hold your attention for the simple reason that none of the tactics that Aubert uses comes across as tacky. For the same reason, the film also scores pretty high on its scare quotient, leaving us gasping for breath on many occasions throughout its running length of almost one hundred minutes.

The film begins in the aftermath of a disaster, when almost the entire population of a rural belt near Quebec has been turned into the living dead. No explanation is offered as to why or how the incident happened, but its massive magnitude is revealed towards the latter half of the film. A few isolated survivors are shown trying to make their way through the roads and the woods, either looking for zombies to kill, or for ways and means of surviving. Among them is a young man who considers himself the black sheep of his family (and yet the only one in the family who is still alive), a young woman who used to work in a sex shop, a housewife and a mother of three — who until not long ago was in the middle of a severe midlife crisis — two elderly woman who are friends with each other, an aged insurance salesman, a teenage boy, and a young girl. Eventually, the paths of all these survivors cross and they join forces in order to run the homestretch to the film’s sinister climax, even as hordes of flesh-eating zombies chase them through picturesque fields and deep, dark woods.

A still from Netflix's Ravenous/Image from YouTube.

A still from Netflix's Ravenous/Image from YouTube.

The film does manage to create some incredibly tense situations. Giving out too much detail about these set pieces will spoil the fun, if one can call it that. The gore is kept to a minimum, although, be warned that it does exist when needed. What the film lacks in gore, it makes up with inventive sound design and unusual camerawork. There are enough jump scares to rob of you of your night’s sleep, but where the film really works is the ebb and flow of trust and doubt that it manages to establish between its characters. Since even a single bite from ‘those evil creatures’ can spell doom for the entire group, every wound, every little change in behavior is looked upon with suspicion. Throughout the film, there is also this searing sense of hopelessness that cuts through you, as one by one, the survivors narrate their back stories, almost all of which end with the gory detail of the death of a loved one, often in the hands of another.

The performances are all commendable. Each character is etched out sharply and the actors do their bit. The writing is sharp, and the film has a pace that is just right – neither uncomfortably slow, nor unnecessarily fast. The background score does half the job of creating the right atmosphere. The rest is done by the beautiful locales.

A still form Ravenous/Image from Twitter.

A still form Ravenous/Image from Twitter.

And yet, the film does fall short on a couple of counts. For one, there is a strange phenomenon that is never explained – a bizarre ritual that the group of zombies engage in. Secondly, the true potential of the presence of a musical instrument among the survivors is never quite utilized, and it becomes just another prop in the film. And finally, despite all its merits, the film does not offer anything that we haven’t seen before. Fans of the genre will be able to spot every single device used in the movie from miles away. For others, the film is a lovely one-time watch.

Ravenous is currently streaming on Netflix.

Updated Date: Mar 04, 2018 13:28 PM