Some basic questions. If Harper were really a renowned photographer, “credited for photographing two species [presumed] extinct,” why would Dt. Slayton grill her so ruthlessly in the hospital and accuse her of being a meth-head? How could you tow someone away without them noticing it or having the time to leap out of their vehicle? Why wouldn’t Harper take a motorbike to make her escape when one is clearly available? When she finally encounters Mallincrkrodt, how come she’s so relaxed, as if she didn’t just, you know, get raped and beaten, and murder several crazed rednecks? Could Harper not see the, um, twist, when she hugs a certain someone towards the end?
Gripes aside, Ravage does accumulate edge-of-your-seat momentum. It effectively conveys the dread of being trapped in a vast, indifferent, golden-hued land. Cinematographer Jacques Brautbar beautifully frames the scenery as a starkly effective contrast to the unraveling brutality (“Mother nature is the true lord of pain”). Grennan’s enthusiasm is evident in a few standout sequences, such as Harper escaping from being tied upside-down. Or the one with the bullets and the fire, or the beheading-via-metal-wire.
“…effectively conveys the dread of being trapped in a vast, indifferent, golden-hued land.”
Dexter-Jones is a compelling lead, appearing in almost every shot and holding the whole thing together. Her character is capable and sharp, though, the ending undermines all of her resourcefulness. Robert Longstreet hams it up as an irredeemable villain, while Dern appears briefly, does his Dern thing, then withers away without leaving much of an impression.
Grennan may have been inspired by exploitation flicks of the 1970s and 80s, or perhaps he found his muse in the likes of Takashi Miike, or both. He doesn’t ogle violence in the way, say, Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film does, but he does thrust it in our face to remind us of our inherent penchant for savagery. Some will walk away shocked, others laughing at the silliness and audacity of it all. I guess that’s my biggest compliment to Ravage: no one will shrug their shoulders and go “eh, whatever” after this one.
"…no one will shrug their shoulders and go 'eh, whatever' after this one."