When you’re telling a story that’s been relayed more times than you can count, the words tend to fall upon deaf ears. Folks tire of repetition, and you can’t really blame them for such. What helps, though, are the details. The repackaging. Everyone has the ability to carry the narrative down a path less-traveled, and that ambition makes all the difference between fresh and stale. In the case of Ravenous, Netflix‘s new zombie film, viewers are treated to a familiar snack with new ingredients- and I ate up every crumb.
On the surface, Robin Aubert‘s French-Canadian horror flick may appear like it’s been shoved through a copier a few hundred times, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s printed in a different ink. The film follows several residents of a small town in Quebec as they navigate through a zombie outbreak. At first, the characters are portrayed in an episodic disconnection, but as the plot breathes, their stories begin to connect and thrive together.
It’s in the characters that Aubert has crafted something special. Each of the survivors have suffered unimaginable loss, but their humanity shines through the stains of blood on their skin and clothing. There’s a humor that courses through Ravenous, not in a way that establishes the film as a comedy, but in one that feels natural and human. Though it wasn’t the biggest surprise up Aubert’s sleeve- I’ll touch on that soon- it was certainly unexpected and the film greatly benefits from it.
The be-all end-all of unexpected details, though, is how philosophical Ravenous frequently manages to be, whether it’s in quiet moments between characters while they contemplate life, or in the zombie hordes’ stacking of unimportant objects such as kitchen chairs or childhood toys.
What’s with those stacks, anyway? In the film, the zombies stack the aforementioned objects and stand around, seeming to worship them. Each viewer will likely take away a different metaphor, but I saw it as this:
As humans, we mindlessly worship things that are useless to us when we die. Be it a God, celebrities, television and movies, or even the internet that we’re so preoccupied with on a minutely basis. We’re all zombies who think and act the way that we’re conditioned by the things we invest our time in. That’s the way humans have been and will continue to be until our ultimate extinction. Even in death, these zombies find meaningless things to worship because it mirrors the way they spent their lives.
All of the great zombie films have something to say beyond the carnage, and Ravenous, whatever you personally take away from it, is worth the thought it requires of you.
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