Les Affamés, also known as The Ravenous in English, is a French- Canadian survival horror movie. It manages to stand out because it focuses on strong characters and their will to live instead of the usual stereotypes. As a matter of fact, the term zombie isn’t used once in this movie.
The film actually starts several weeks after human beings have transformed into flesh-feasting creatures. The movie never tries to explain how or why this happened to avoid genre stereotypes that would only artificially stretch this movie. The movie also avoids to explain how the zombie apocalypse might end and doesn’t come around with a surprising deus ex machina.
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The movie actually follows three different groups that end up getting together towards the middle and last third of the film. We follow a young man with a bad sense of humour who is trying to fight those creatures and save the few survivors by driving through the countryside in his truck. After losing his best friend in a trap set by the flesh-feasting creatures, he joins forces with a resilient woman who claims to have been bitten by a dog. Can he really trust her?
This fits the calm, realistic and serious vibe of the movie. The film focuses on about half a dozen characters and their fight for survival from start to finish. The core of this movie reminds me a little bit of M. Nght Shyamalan’s The Happening. I know this movie got very negative reviews while Les Affamés is critically acclaimed which doesn’t make any sense to me. I really like both films because they take their audience seriously and don’t offer shallow explanations for supernatural phenomenons.
A young mother has lost her entire family to the hordes of zombies while she had an appointment with her beautician. She is driven by the will to kill as many of those creatures as possible. In the beginning, she is alone on her suicidal mission but ends up meeting two elderly women who have transformed their property into a fortress. Can the two elderly woman trust the vengeful lone wolf?
A teenager has also lost his family to the zombies and even had to kill some family members who had been bitten by the zombies. He strolls through the woods, desperate and not knowing what to do and where to go. There, he meets an old and injured man who had to kill his own wife who had been infected by the zombies. Can the two soulmates stick together despite their difference in age?
Aside of really profound, diversified and authentic characters, the movie also convinces with stunning landscapes shot in Ham-Nord, the hometown of director Robin Aubert. It’s obvious that he was familiar with every bunker, farm, forest, meadow and mine in the region as each location is used very efficiently throughout the movie.
Even though this movie is everything but a superficial zombie flick, genre enthusiasts will still get what they can expect from such a movie. The duels between humans and zombies are quite graphic, intense and violent. The film comes around with a few jump scares as well. Despite a few minor humorous elements, the overall mood of the film is quite gloomy.
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Despite its low budget, this movie is one of the better zombie films in recent memory. The atmosphere, characters, dialogues, landscapes and mystery of the film make it both an entertaining and unique experience. Genre fans should definitely give this movie a try. Even though the dialogues in French are only subtitled, they are short and concise and overall easy to follow, so don’t let that little detail scare you off.