Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation | Release Date: March 19, 1999
7.2
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Generally favorable reviews based on 29 Ratings
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20
Mixed:
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3
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7
SpangleSep 15, 2017
It is through films such as Antonia Bird's Ravenous that one is forced to question whether film criticism is really needed or not. Is there a way to truly qualify just how good or bad this film is? Even if there is, there certainly can be noIt is through films such as Antonia Bird's Ravenous that one is forced to question whether film criticism is really needed or not. Is there a way to truly qualify just how good or bad this film is? Even if there is, there certainly can be no way to truly tell if a reader would enjoy a film such as Ravenous. On an evaluation of its quality, Ravenous is pretty much best defined as "what the **** When it comes to whether or not to recommend it to somebody, it is best to stay away from that temptation. On a similar note, there is really no way to truly enjoy this, right? Ravenous is hardly the most disturbing film ever made, but its unique blend of comedy, horror, and suspense, is often thrilling, horrifying, and funny, yet just so distasteful that it is hard to truly come away saying it was a great time. The only thing certain about Ravenous is that it made the 20th Century Fox executives who greenlit this project start sprucing up their resumes right after the first screening.

Perhaps the best quality presented by Ravenous that tilts it towards being a definitively good film is the score from Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn. Pulsating, thrilling in its own right, and truly unsettling, this constant within the film is really what defines the experience of watching Ravenous. Constantly keeping you on edge with each pounding hammer of a note, the film's score is one that perfectly sets the tone for the events on display. While the cannibalism would unsettle you in its own right, the score takes it a new dimension. It makes bone shatteringly unsettling, frightening, and horrifying. Yet, what is oh so brilliant about Ravenous is how it often allows the score to do the talking. As Captain Boyd (Guy Pearce) races through the woods trying to find Colonel Ives / F.W. Calhoun (Robert Carlyle), the score races through the woods alongside them, creating an atmosphere of pure, pulse-pounding tension. This type of suspense via such a horrifying score is one mastered by a select few horror films and it is one that director Antonia Bird is impressively able to keep as a constant throughout, never letting up on the gas and instead constantly ramming it down the audience's throat, proving that often times the best tension is the kind that cannot be cut with a knife, but rather made into a stew.

Where the film further increases its appeal is in its cinematography. Often taking on the style of a western - especially given its setting and the fact that it is about a group of soldiers at a remote outpost - Ravenous' beautiful imagery of the snow landing on the horizon is often quite gorgeous, as is the shot of approaching members of the army as they come to investigate the happenings at the fort. Combined with the far more intimate and close-up shot of Boyd and Private Reich (Neal McDonough) investigating the cave that is lit solely by candelight, Ravenous is a film that often has terrific beauty. For all of the gore and horror on display, Bird never loses sight of the fantastic scenery around them or the haunting possibilities of the perfect lighting in a remote cave where cannibalism is known to have occurred. With this perfect framing and lighting when needed, Ravenous is a film that often truly captures the attention of the eye even when the mind is so unspeakably repulsed by the fact that these men are eating one another.

Where the film does slack, however, is in how conventional it can be at times. Playing with classic film tropes of protagonists not being believed by those in power or of the "they are never dead even if you see them dead" horror trope, Ravenous feels very been there, done that in its structure even if its events often cover up this fact. Via the return of Calhoun as Colonel Ives or the resurrection of Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones), Ravenous is often a rather contrived film that has very little originality in how it is structured narratively. This is particularly true of its characters with the outsider Captain who is disliked by his superiors, the mysterious stranger who may or may not be trusted, the kooky soldier, the dedicated soldier, the scared soldier/preacher, and the quirky colonel. None of them feel particularly fresh, even if Bird has a lot of fun bringing this odd blend of comedic characters into a horror film. While the film is enjoyable, funny, and thrilling, it is hard to come away not thinking that its cannibalism is not a bit of a gimmick to distract from how conventional and cliche it is written. Rarely as daring as it believes itself to be, Ravenous is a film that is pretty glossy on the inside but only to hide the often rough interior work.

As a satire and comedy, Ravenous is certainly quite funny and a smart film. Though it is certainly about the military and Manifest Destiny to some degree, the film plays closer to a morality tale regarding sin and temptation.
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7
shiftworkerAug 29, 2016
Compelling historical horror where intense characters develop the plot effectively against carefully chosen harsh backdrops. A few grisly moments, though no leap-out-your-seat surprises. It should provoke a reaction, probably interestingCompelling historical horror where intense characters develop the plot effectively against carefully chosen harsh backdrops. A few grisly moments, though no leap-out-your-seat surprises. It should provoke a reaction, probably interesting conversation, though some will respond only with disgust.. Expand
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10
freedomFriesOct 27, 2014
An unappreciated masterpiece of oddball characters, patchwork music, and a story that you will absolutely never forget. Like other comments suggested the replay value is high as a kite and the quote worthiness will leave you (and thoseAn unappreciated masterpiece of oddball characters, patchwork music, and a story that you will absolutely never forget. Like other comments suggested the replay value is high as a kite and the quote worthiness will leave you (and those weirdos you watch it with) making inside comments for the rest of your lives. This director has never landed anything like it before or since making it one of those amazing one hit wonders that manages to feature an almost all star cast (though many before they would be considered "stars").

Details are important so listen closely and pay attention to every minor detail as it all has meaning and either ties into a joke or a horrific detail... if you miss it, don't sweat, you'll catch it on your second or third watch.
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10
willzZeezJun 21, 2014
This is a movie you can watch over, and over, and over again. Even with run-on sentences! It captures the Sierra's so well and the acting as well as the cast are spot on.
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10
CoulterMar 28, 2014
The creators thought they were making dark comedy about American expansionism and ever increasing appetites. What they thought was over the top was actually right on the spot. A beautiful and harsh tale of America and it's equal partsThe creators thought they were making dark comedy about American expansionism and ever increasing appetites. What they thought was over the top was actually right on the spot. A beautiful and harsh tale of America and it's equal parts monstrous greed and nobility. Great cast and amazing score. I can't make it through the movie without wanting to eat a steak though. Expand
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10
Dead_ReckonSep 24, 2011
Absolutely wonderful film. The acting is great and the story is awesome. The more I watch this film the more I love it. Now if only they would release it on Bluray already
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8
DamienDarko777May 6, 2011
I actually found myself liking and enjoying this darkly tongue-in-cheek cannibal western. The actors had a lot to do with that; They really made the effort to sell the premise. Gory, but also wickedly amusing. Not the best movie ever, butI actually found myself liking and enjoying this darkly tongue-in-cheek cannibal western. The actors had a lot to do with that; They really made the effort to sell the premise. Gory, but also wickedly amusing. Not the best movie ever, but still under-rated. Expand
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9
bohJan 26, 2011
This is an underated gem of a film, with a brilliant soundtrack by Nyman and Albarn. It's original and creative approach constantly surprises, it never resorts to the cliche conventions of the horror genre, original directing and fantasticThis is an underated gem of a film, with a brilliant soundtrack by Nyman and Albarn. It's original and creative approach constantly surprises, it never resorts to the cliche conventions of the horror genre, original directing and fantastic acting by Carlisle an d Pearce. Expand
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9
warcoverNov 6, 2007
Strikingly original, gorgeous cinematography, authentic costume design, excellent performances. This is one of those movies that will become better known and appreciated as time goes by. Apparently not many people knew what to make of it in 99.
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