The Revenant – 2.75 stars

A soldier in Iraq (David Anders) is gunned down and dragged away into the desert. He comes home to LA for a full military funeral, but after being put in the ground, he rises. And goes straight to the apartment of his wastrel friend (Chris Wilde, who looks like David Spade but acts funnier). There, he realizes he cannot eat. Soon, he craves blood. He robs a blood bank but realizes he is better served appearing vulnerable and then feeding off of criminals (a mix of Charles Bronson in Death Wish and Dexter).

The first half of the film is fresh and clever.  The “what the fu**!” reaction of Anders to his plight is gut-busting and the aplomb with which Wylde greets his pal is the perfect pitch. The picture has a wicked sense of humor, harkening back to American Werewolf in London and Reanimator. This could easily have been a bigger budget, Paul Rudd/Seth Rogen project. Indeed, feeding your back-from-the-dead pal is the ultimate validation of a bromance.

Alas, two thirds in, and it runs out of gas. The plot shifts to the woes of Anders’s girlfriend, who still unconvincingly loves him with all her heart, even if he actually rots and stinks when unfed. It gets more and more absurdist, and after we dispense (in gruesome fashion) with the girlfriend, the movie doesn’t know what to do with itself.  So it opts for over-the-top excess and a high concept finale. The former is numbing. The latter comes off cheezy. The film’s low budget, hidden nicely by well-chosen LA locales and unambitious special effects, becomes an issue when we get into police chases, an overlong massive shoot-out in and outside of the subway, and sci fi nonsense that cries out “Student film.”

Still, promise from director D. Kerry Prior and a noble failure.

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