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  Ravage Size Of A Cow
Year: 2019
Director: Teddy Grennan
Stars: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Robert Longstreet, Bruce Dern, Eric Nelsen, Joshua Brady, Ross Partridge, Chris Pinkalla, Drake Shannon, Michael Weaver
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Harper Sykes (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) is lying in a hospital bed having suffered a dreadful attack, bandaged from head to toe, but the police are sceptical that her story is accurate, and tend to believe she was the agent of her own undoing when she had, they presume, suffered burns from a meth session that went horribly wrong. Besides, when they picked her up she attacked the officer trying to help her, a sure sign that she had a criminal background, yet as she tells her tale to a different cop who has been sent to question her, a different take on her injuries emerges, one where she was a nature photographer in the middle of the Deep South countryside who happened to stumble upon a murder performed by a gang of local lynchers...

Ravage, also known, somewhat provocatively (and unadvisedly) as Swing Low, was another contribution to the resurgence of the rape/revenge genre that happened along in the early twenty-first century, though its most visible proponents had been women, and here was a man writing and directing one, Teddy Grennan. Perhaps for that reason he left out the rape part of the plot, opting to fade out just as a group menacingly surrounded Harper as she was tied down, so that we were aware of the crime about to be visited upon her, but we did not need to see it play out, a circumspect decision that, in the course of the movie, proved wise, especially in light of the ending they placed on the piece, which was unsatisfying to say the least.

Really it was a rape/revenge thriller without the rape, but without the revenge either, an unusual step to take in this style and one which risked alienating the audience who wanted to see a woman slaughter her aggressors and ultimately win out. Obviously the opening of the film - given most of this unfolded in flashback - was a strong hint that all did not go well for our heroine when she was lying in the hospital horribly burned, but if you were anticipating some degree of taking the bad guys down with her, well, there was an element of that, but it was kind of perfunctory. In fact, the direction appeared more keen on taking in the bucolic landscapes Harper ran through, suggesting Grennan would have preferred to make something with more connection to Mother Nature than play out the tropes of attack and defend that were none too original.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of movies, horror movies as well, that handle well-worn cliches and plot points and manage to do something interesting with them, after all horror fans do like to see something familiar to identify what they're watching with the genre they love - you could say the same of action fans or Western fans, any kind of fans really. And to be fair there was enough to entertain as it kept you watching as Harper makes her bid for escape, Dexter-Jones proving a sturdy protagonist when it came to standing up for herself and despatching the goons sent to track her down. But that ending, yeesh, it was one of those where you found yourself rescripting it as you watched to render it more acceptable, yes, they wanted to go for the downer, but to have absolutely nothing go right was just too much and left the viewer with no sense of victory whatsoever, no matter how revolting it was as a novelty conclusion. It also tipped the picture over into misogyny that did not appear to have been the intention, but otherwise had you wondering who else it was supposed to appeal to - the villains look to have been the production's target audience, on this evidence. Oh, and Bruce Dern showed up for five minutes, for a bit of personality. Music by Jacques Brautbar.

[Signature Entertainment presents Ravage on Digital HD 5th October.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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