Surgeon General’s Warning: This article revisits Ravenous (1999), not the new zombie movie on Netflix.
America is eating itself alive, so why not celebrate Halloween with a movie about our forefathers doing the same thing? Well, kinda, as we will discover.
Ravenous is a loose account of the Donner party — an unlucky group of settlers that ate each other. Set to the most beautiful soundtrack in horror history (seriously… the soundtrack was written by award-winning composer Michael Nyman with Damon Albarn, the lead singer of Blur and Gorillaz), it’s introspective, cheeky macabre; yet, refreshingly upbeat.
In a way, Ravenous is the feel-good cannibal movie this country needs.
Everyone is hungry. Everyone wants to survive. Everyone is a potential killer … and victim. Here in the boondocks, a diet for survival progresses into a diet of indulgence. This gives the moments of gore a narrative context, as well as a terrifying historical one.
The film’s low budget only adds to the impoverished look of the story, filmed in gorgeous mountain terrain of the Tatra Mountains, Slovakia and Durango, Mexico. Those vistas and authentic appeal gives Ravenous a distinct vibe reminiscent of The Revenant. The beauty of the scenery and music serve as a stark contrast with the violence.
The acting is brilliant across the board with Robert Carlyle especially feeding upon our fears. It’s no wonder 28 Weeks Later cast him to eat people again.
There’s a film trope called “Man is the Monster,” but is Ravenous just another example of humanity repeating a truth? True cannibal stories require us all to reflect on their own morality: what lines would we cross to survive?
Historical cannibal stories like Ravenous make us fear our forefathers. Would we have survived this era of America? Depends on how fast you can run.