MOVIE REVIEW: Avenged (2013)

By Dixielord

Avenged

I freely admit that I'm a fan of the brutal movies of the 70s and 80s. Today's film makers just can't seem to get that visceral feel that was rampant back then. At least not often, but director Michael Ojeda managed to capture a lot of that brutality in his 2013 film Avenged.

Avenged (originally titled Savaged) is the story of Zoe, a hearing impaired young woman driving across country to move in with her boyfriend. Along the way she stumbles across the murder of a young Native American at the hands of a group of locals. Zoe is kidnapped, raped and eventually killed, but that's far from the end of things. Seeking to heal her, a local shaman manages to bring her back from the dead, but she doesn't come back alone. Her body is now possessed by the spirit of a legendary Native American warrior and is also fast falling apart with decay. She sets out to get revenge on the men who killed her before her body rots away.

Although Avenged is far from a perfect film, there's a lot to like about it, especially for horror fans. It's a bold, no holds barred movie. The bad guys are really bad, racist murderers with no redeemable values. They brutalize Zoe and you can't wait to see them get theirs. They reminded me a lot of Krug and friends from The Last House on the Left. Rodney Rowland plays the Trey, leader of the band as it were. He's a nasty fucker but one that oozes charisma along with hatred. Physically he reminds me a lot of Jeff Branson from the 2010 remake of I Spit on Your Grave, but he's a whole lot nastier. He has a hatred of Natives spurred on by his friends and family. He enjoys what he does and he is remorseless in his torture and rape of Zoe.

Zoe, played by Amanda Adrienne, is both hero and victim. She starts out as the classic exploitation victim, helpless at the hands of evil. Even with her disabilities she fights back against her tormentors. She is a tough independent woman but all her fighting is in vain. After her possession, she becomes the invincible warrior, spreading death and mayhem on the ones who did her wrong. With very little dialogue, Adrienne makes us feel for Zoe, and she's also bad ass in the fight scene.

However, the spirit is never fully in control, so while we cheer on her revenge, we still see see the results of her suffering. We see her falling apart and know, even if she gets her revenge it isn't going to end well. That's a key feature in a good exploitation film: while the good guys may win, there's always a price and seldom a happy ending. You wont get a fake happy ending, or M. Knight twist coming out of nowhere. In Avenged the movie plays out like it should, like it has to.

AvengedAs sadistic as Avenged is, it doesn't linger on the rape scenes. It shows just enough so we can be horrified, but not enough to risk it being titillating. While the camera doesn't linger on Zoe's torture, the bad guys are taken out in sadistic glee with knives, arrows and bare hands. Most importantly, it makes you care about the character of Zoe and her boyfriend. It's hard to make a movie work if you don’t care about the lead character, especially in a violent movie.

The special effects are good enough considering the limited budget. There are a few digital effects that were a bit weak, but overall it doesn’t hurt the film. The acting is solid all the way through and anchored by great performances from Rodney Rowland and Amanda Adrienne.

If you like real, gritty horror, horror that hearkens back to the 70s, I think you will enjoy Avenged. It's low budget but it's done well. It might not be a great film, but it's a fun film and it's worth checking out. I'm giving it four out of five stars.

Posted by Allen Alberson

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