Friday, November 6, 2015

Avenged


  I gotta admit, the poster art (sampled in the banner above) for Avenged (a.k.a. Savaged) really caught my eye and got me to look the movie up. Though granted the poster is a shoddy Photoshop job upon closer inspection, but still... it did it's job, and I tip my hat to the designer accordingly. Because this movie is friggin neat. I can tell it was a labor of love, and by one man above all. This movie was written, edited, and directed by Michael S. Ojeda. I've never heard of this guy before, but I'll be keeping an eye out for his movies in the future. He spun a wicked tale of murder, rape, and revenge and all with a big supernatural twist. Avenged is part romance movie, part horror, part fantasy, and part action movie. What more could you ask for?

  The movie is about a deaf woman named Zoe who while on a road trip to meet up with her fiancee, gets abducted, savagely raped and eventually murdered by a gang of racist rednecks. The twist is, when a Native American medicine man tries to bring her back to life, the bloodthirsty spirit of a betrayed Apache warrior is brought back as well. The spirit uses Zoe to exact his revenge, and hers, on the men that killed her. It's I Spit on Your Grave meets The Crow. The rape/revenge genre is not exactly a high class one, and it's one that's gone kind of stale in this modern age of political correctness- but sometimes you just wanna see a bunch of really bad people get what's coming to them. Avenged does that with spectacular flair.

  I gotta say though, I'm not fond of Ojeda's editing at all. The movie seems overly edited right away with random slow motion, dropped framed and weird cuts. The first ten or so minutes of the movie were tedious and odd. I stuck with the flick though because why not? It might get better, and it did. A lot better. The over-editing tweaks seem to calm down after a while, and just when the movie gets interesting too. The revenge scenes are fantastic little action/horror set pieces. They're full of practical gore effects and it all looks great. There is a bit of CGI here and there, but it was used well and I have no complaints. There's some downright shocking parts here where I literally sat up and said "Woah..." I thought Avenged might be a neat little flick, but it really surpassed my expectations.

  It's a big bloody blast with lots of flashy effects, graphic violence, a great music score, and some surprisingly good acting. The villains were vile, maybe cartoonishly so- but Zoe and her fiancee are the real stars of the movie obviously. They seem genuinely in love, and my heart broke for them. This isn't the kind of movie that lets you think there'll be a magical happy ending somehow. Zoe's fate is sealed, the only thing left to do before her body completely rots away is just to get even. She makes great use of everything from broken bottles, snapped pool cues, her bare hands, a hunting bow, hatchets, knives and guns. She's a one-woman army with the ferocity of an old school barbarian, and a body impervious to damage like Eric Draven in The Crow.

  As badass as all that is, the movie is still a tragedy from beginning to end. It's not a feel good action flick, it's a horror movie as much as anything else, and a real sad story to boot. She's a top tier killing machine but she's also rotting away regardless. Despite the fact her spirit and mind are alive, her body isn't on the same page with them. She's continually having to patch herself up with whatever's on hand, leading to some graphically unnerving moments that truly made my skin crawl. The movie might borrow from a bunch of other flicks, but the way it does what it does makes it feel unique and fresh. It also has a strong emotional core to it that again I can only liken to The Crow.

   When all is said and done, Avenged feels like somewhat of a sophomoric effort, but it's a damn good one at that. It's low budget, but resourcefully made and looks good. The practical effects are a major highlight of the movie, ranging from badass and cathartic to gruesome and disgusting. The set pieces are often thrilling and well constructed. Combine all that with a tragic and endearing protagonist and you've got a winner. Avenged won't be for everyone, it's pretty brutal and graphic, but I for one loved it. Can't wait to buy a copy and add it to my movie collection. I give this revenge flick a full recommendation if you're in the mood for an nastily cool genre-bender.

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