Review: Zombie Flick ‘Ravenous’ AKA ‘Les Affames’ Premieres On Netflix [Opinion]


With a March 2 premiere, zombie apocalypse thriller Ravenous (Les Affames) is now streaming on Netflix. Directed by Robin Aubert on location in rural Quebec (in the Quebecois language, with subtitles), the movie gets immediately into the action without any of the exposition and dour moralizing that has, for example, made AMC’s The Walking Dead stumble. In fact, there are scenes in the Aubert-written script that contain little or no dialogue in a film that separately follows three small groups of slice-of-life, as it were, survivors until they eventually come together for mutual benefit.

Spoilers Follow

The group eventually winds up in a pickle, literally and figuratively. In a shorthand manner, which underscores the efficiency of the writing, the audience does learn some of the characters’ backstory along the way.

Netflix scooped up Ravenous after it won an award at the Toronto International Film Festival and scored well at other such events.

Ravenous currently has an 88 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes from the so-called professional critics (which you should always take with a grain of salt) and a 58-percent likeability score from the audience.

The quietness of the sometimes unpredictable film perhaps makes the ominous sounds in the night along with violence when it erupts even more terrifying. Ravenous can be rather gruesome, although some encounters are portrayed off camera.

“Stretches of intense human interaction are interspersed with moments of low-key humor that are gentle, even sweet, and dramatically potent zombie assaults that are all the more jolting for their contrapuntal chaos and abruptness,” Variety wrote in its theatrical review of the film.

Les Affames (Ravenous) on Netflix
Featured image credit: Netflix

The cinematography is outstanding throughout.

“Aubert makes particularly strong use of the woods, which are featured in multiple scenes to create a foreboding sense of isolation. The dark forest is also a playground on which the zombies chase survivors,” Bloody-Disgusting observed.

The implication in Ravenous (not to be confused with the 1999 Guy Pearce horror-western) is that authorities have abandoned those who live in the countryside to fend for themselves. Canada has strict gun control laws, but apparently, rifles are okay, which is fortunate for the humans in the movie trying to fend off attacks from the zombies. The solid cast of performers is unknown here in America, and you can instantly tell that Ravenous is made outside the U.S. since there are no supermodels among the survivors.

Going into any zombie film, fans of the genre often wonder what’s going to be different about this one. While familiar tropes are in evidence, Ravenous, which technically should be The Ravenous, features three types of undead functionality. The first includes those who attack like speed demons, as it were; a second who creeps up on the protagonists silently; and a third who enter into a communal, trancelike state in a ceremony that the film never really explains.

As an aside, if the flesh-eaters are so hungry all the time, how can they maintain their energy in between feedings?

There are other loose ends, including whether one of the main characters was bitten by a dog — or something else — and why she’s lugging around a musical instrument when everyone else by necessity needs to travel light.

“But Aubert’s attempts to think outside the box — or at least outside the gory confines of most horror movies — ultimately prove rewarding,” the Hollywood Reporter asserted.

Watch the Ravenous/Les Affames trailer embedded below.

Several other observations: As it turns out, a connection does exist between the very first scene and the last scene. Plus, if you have a hunch that there is an epilogue after the credits finish rolling, you’d be correct.

Ravenous is “eerie and melancholic, slow and unique, and certainly not for everyone. But then again what is?” the ReadySteadyCut website wondered about the tense film.

As the Inquisitr previously explained, Netflix is aggressively shifting from a movie and television library to an original content programmer. With that in mind, Netflix originals or quasi-originals constitute a mixed bag. As a practical matter, any review is based on the quality of the content plus a viewer’s mood and/or expectations when he or she plops down on the couch.

As alluded to above, with a somewhat different take on the undead oeuvre, Ravenous is rated TV-MA (for mature audiences only), which means it may be unsuitable for those under 17 because of language, sexual situations, or violence, and there is a lot of the latter.

Parenthetically, on the subject of movies with minimal dialogue, Netflix is also currently streaming Mute, a pot-boiler that takes place in a futuristic, Blade Runner-like Berlin. Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Seyneb Saleh, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston’s ex, who is almost unrecognizable in a blond wig and without his usual glum demeanor), it was directed Davie Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones.

The storyline primarily focuses on the Skarsgard character, a bartender unable to speak owing to a childhood injury, searching for his cocktail waitress girlfriend who has gone missing. Rudd and Theroux play shady ex-Army doctors who have a side hustle rendering healthcare for the mob. Unlike Ravenous, Mute’s slow-moving and disjointed plot very quickly creates the temptation to shut it off, but there is a big and off-the-hook payoff in the last 30 minutes or so, if viewers can get that far, and it is rather grisly. Be advised: Mute got buried by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, however, while just a bare majority of the audience gave it a positive rating. It is also rated TV-MA.