The trick to a great zombie movie it to twist one detail and add it to an already successful formula. In the case of The Ravenous, that detail is sound. It features fast-moving zombies who react to loud noises, resulting in tense sequences of near-silence as the human survivors try to sneak past the zombie horde.
Taking place in rural Quebec, The Ravenous combines gore and morbid humor with a French-Canadian indie drama vibe. It’s the kind of zombie thriller where the main characters are regular people, not super-tough badasses. Taking place shortly after a mysterious plague, the survivors haven’t had time to hone the skills of The Walking Dead. They’re just locals (mostly middle-aged women) who lucked out by living in remote houses, or knowing how to use a shotgun.
The Ravenous is relatively low-budget, but that doesn’t necessarily matter in the zombie genre. As long as the threat is convincing, you don’t need expensive special effects. This movie offers some truly terrifying moments, balanced by plenty of humor—without straying into genre-savvy parody territory like Shaun of the Dead.
Like 2016’s excellent The Girl With All The Gifts, The Ravenous emphasizes the alien nature of the zombie plague. While it never attempts to offer a scientific explanation, it offers hints that the zombies have their own culture, which is, of course, terrifyingly incomprehensible to humans. It’s a welcome reminder that in this particular genre, some things are best left unexplained.
Screening at film festivals in 2017, The Ravenous was too obscure to go on general release in the U.S. Instead, it found a home on Netflix. We recommend it to horror fans who enjoy fast zombies, well-written female characters, and are comfortable with R-rated gore.