Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Ravenous AKA Les Affames (2017)

It seems that every month we horror fans find ourselves discussing the state of various subgenres, and it seems that a lot of those conversations involve the exaggerated deaths of most. Be it the vampire film, the found footage film, or the zombie movie. And it's the zombie movie that, perhaps more than any of the others, keeps being incorrectly labelled as dead just before something comes along to give us an enjoyable, fresh take on the subgenre. Which is quite fitting.

The Ravenous AKA Les Affames is another zombie movie, and another one that tries to give viewers something a bit different. It's not entirely successful, mainly because the characters are much better realised than a couple of the more interesting ideas, but it gets points for trying, and certainly holds at least one or two moments good enough to make it worth seeking out, if you're a horror movie fan.

These zombies are more attracted to sound than anything else, which sets them into attack mode when they're not standing around strange pyres that they have been building out of various objects (one is made up of chairs, we see a smaller one made up of children's toys/bikes). The main people trying to avoid the zombies are Bonin (Marc-Andre Grondin), Tania (Monia Chokri), and a young girl named Zoe (Charlotte St-Martin). Bonin makes bad jokes to help deal with the situation, Tania tries her best to become the kind of person who can handle themselves well enough in this horrific scenario, and Zoe is young enough to be scared, but also possibly not as scared as she would be if she could really envision the whole big picture. There are other people who end up banding together and doing their best to fend off zombie attacks, but these three individuals, and whether or not they can survive until the end credits roll, are the heart of the story.

Writer-director Robin Aubert does well, for the most part. His strength lies with the characters he has created, all portrayed well by a strong cast, but I was also impressed by the two stranger elements of this particular zombie outbreak portrayal. Seeing them attracted by sound made for a few enjoyably tense sequences, and those pyres . . . well, I have an idea about those based on a final image, which may be completely incorrect, but I appreciate having that to mull over.

Unfortunately, Aubert mishandles some of the execution of his material. For all of the impressive moments, amateur errors end up hampering some other scenes, including one that should have been an impressive sequence of sustained tension but ends up being a muddled mess, due to poor shot choice, clumsy editing, and misjudged lighting levels. These mis-steps would be easier to forgive in a debut feature, but this isn't a debut feature (although I can appreciate that Aubert would still be dealing with various obstacles and restraints).

Overall, this is a subtle and impressively thought-provoking zombie film. It also has one laugh out loud moment so perfectly judged, despite the signposting, that I almost bumped my rating up another point for that moment alone. Maybe not one that will be revisited much, or even remembered after a year or two, I would still recommend this to more patient horror fans who don't mind films that aim a bit further than their reach allows.


It's not available to buy anywhere yet, but THIS set is.

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