Dir: Michael S. Ojeda
Starring: Amanda Adrienne, Tom Ardavany, Ronnie Gene Blevins, and Rodney Rowland
From Raven Banner Entertainment
By: Monte Yazzie (www.thecodafilms.com)
Revenge films are one of the gold standard subgenres in horror, especially ones with female protagonist committing all manner of gruesome violence against the people, usually men, which have assaulted her. Director Michael S. Ojeda crafts his version a little different, this time with a supernatural twist that involves the possession of a deaf, and left for dead, woman by the spirit of a Native American warrior who is seeking revenge. Ojeda doesn’t try to reinvent the genre but instead makes a vicious and inventive film that is a recent standout in the oversaturated category.
Zoe (Amanda Adrienne) is on a road trip across the desert making her way to an eager boyfriend. Zoe, who stops to take pictures of the landscape, witnesses a young Native American man running for his life from a gang of men chasing him in a truck. Zoe intervenes, trying to get the young man into her car, but is halted by the murderous group who kill the young man in front of her. They kidnap, brutally assault, and bury her in a shallow grave. Her body is found by a medicine man who brings her back from death, however she does not come back alone. The vengeful spirit of an Apache warrior has possessed her body.
These kinds of films have the potential to wane into exploitative territory rather quickly. Some promptly moving away from the slim narrative purpose into full-blown movements of gore and violence. “Savaged” isn’t much different in this regard; the violence turns sadistic and brutal before the 10-minute mark of the film. However, director Michael S. Ojeda shifts the narrative by utilizing other subgenres of horror to assist in transitioning the customary revenge film into one with zombie and spirit possession conventions. What would have otherwise turned routine and monotonous becomes an inventive morphing of familiar themes. Zoe turns brutal, attacking her attackers with stereotypical Native American weaponry, bows and arrows and tomahawks. While these demonstrations walk the fine line of cultural sensitivity, insulting Native American typecasts are still prevalent even in big budget productions but here the offensive material is utilized to further condemn the antagonists that have wronged both Zoe and the spirit.
Amanda Adrienne may not look intimidating but her performance will deem otherwise. She turns from helpless to hardened convincingly but also commits physically to the demanding tasks. The remaining cast, all men and mostly villains, are given minimal amounts of character development. Besides Marc Anthony Samuel, who plays Zoe’s boyfriend Dane, most of the remaining cast is nothing but hate filled scoundrels.
“Savaged” takes a very common genre theme and attempts to do something different with it. While nothing is necessarily surprising, the film is paced well and has enough genre attributes to keep the horror enthusiasts appeased.
Monte’s Rating / 3.50 out of 5.00