Ravage is essentially a campfire story for mature audiences: there’s a lot of build up, an unsettling suggestion of what could happen, and then a freaky follow through. What we learn throughout the film, however, is that writer/director Teddy Grennan and the film’s nincompoop producers are incapable of closing their set-ups. This is demonstrated by some earlier mini murders, making us apprehensive about its grand finale when a ludicrous torture chamber is invented and utterly botched.
The story that fills the gaps between the action is a standard rape-and-revenge template. After a photographer (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) witnesses a disturbing violent act in the woods, she takes a fury of snapshots and makes a run for it. She attempts to find help, but she’s captured by the woodsmen, who proceed to torture and violate her. She finds a window to escape and, while in pursuit, strategizes ways to get back at her perpetrators.
Ravage parades itself as a throwback to exploitation cinema but, instead, overshoots and ends up replicating the gross trend of torture porn in the 2000s – an era of films that tried to one-up each other with over-the-top violence. No matter what kind of film era Ravage is trying to relive though, the end product should be shocking – and it isn’t. The problem with Ravage is that its team of bluffing filmmakers can’t walk the walk when fulfilling a payoff. Ravage builds anticipation towards some gruesome sequences, but cops out and doesn’t show the audience more than a few seconds of the results. Considering how some of this action is staged, I assume this was a financial decision. If the film was working with a strapped budget, priorities needed to be rearranged. Why not shovel most of the money towards an accomplished special effects artist who can deliver memorable visuals? That way, the movie at least earns credibility with horror hounds instead of ripping them off.
Instead of wasting money employing Oscar nominee Bruce Dern to turn up for a few minutes to give a lame monologue, give the funding to a team of creative artists who could cook up something morbidly unique to send viewers home with. Even the worst examples of torture porn got this right.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie