28th Feb2014

Frightfest 2014: ‘Savaged’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Amanda Adrienne, Tom Ardavany, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Rodney Rowland, Brionne Davis, Ed Fletcher, Jason Gurvitz, Daniel Knight, John Charles Meyer, Kyle Morris, Marc Anthony Samuel | Written and Directed by Micheal S. Ojeda

savaged

Travelling across country to be with her fiancé, deaf mute Zoe (Adrienne) stumbles on a horrific crime. Zoe’s brave attempt to intervene seals her fate; she’s brutalized and left for dead. When an Indian shaman finds her clinging to life in a shallow grave he attempts to save her – but in the mystical process the spirit of an ancient Apache warrior enters her corpse hell-bent on revenge. But can she slaughter the men who attacked her in time before her body decomposes completely?

Described as a more horrific take on The Crow, Savaged is actually more a supernatural take on I Spit on Your Grave (or The Last House of the Left)complete with a tortured heroine, brutal rape scenes and even more brutal revenge – than comic book movie. And much like Almost Human, which is also screening at this years Glasgow Frightfest, Savaged is is also eerily reminiscent of 80s cinema and in particular the Native American fused stories of Poltergeist, Scalps, Shadow of the Hawk et al. It’s a refreshing change in the genre – after all it’s been some time since vengeful spirits and Native American traditions have been brought together on the big screen in such a fashion.

Of course modern revenge movies are nothing without the gory hellbent scenes of vengeance, and there’s plenty of gore on display in Savaged too, the kind of which we haven’t seen in a while – including a gloriously violent and incredibly bloody disembowelment (which leads to a hilarious intestine tug of war), and beheading and scalpings galore; and of course the more traditional “death by bow and arrow”… It’s a stunningly gory display really showing the love writer/director must have for OTT gore-heavy genre flicks.

However whilst the gore is the star of the film, Ojeda also tries to infuse his story with more melodrama – no doubt to distance Savaged from the seedy lows of your typical rape/revenge movie, however his script comes across a somewhat inept and overwrought, with leading man Marc Anthony Samuel (as the undead Zoe’s boyfriend) making the weak script even worse through some seriously over-hammed acting, rendering what should be the films emotional core into something of, sadly, a farce.

It’s a strange dichotomy. Ojeda’s film is both a fantastically gory and effective horror tale, with a great revenge story and central character that is superbly well-rounded and emotionally captivating (thanks to actress Amanda Adrienne’s brilliant portrayal of both sides of Zoe’s character – victim and killer), but it’s all let down somewhat by the risible script. Thankfully as a genre fan I can look over cheesy lines and bad delivery – after all aren’t a LOT of horror movies lumbered by such constraints? And it helps that the rest of Savaged easily outshines any issues with sub-par dialogue.

A superb supernatural take on I Spit on Your Grave, Savaged was, at least for me, a cracking start to Glasgow Frightfest 2014.

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