Annabelle Dexter-Jones is Harper Sykes, a “GI Jane with a camera.” On a photographic assignment in the remote Virginia woods she witnesses and documents a group of men person to a pack of hungry dogs. Terrible things happen and she wakes up in a hospital bed, bandaged from head-to-toe, and being questioned by Detective Slayton (Michael Weaver). Convinced she is a “mountain tweaker who burned herself up in a meth lab,” he tries to coerce a story out of her.
In flashbacks the movie details, and I mean details with a capital D, the brutal story of Harper’s capture by the redneck ravagers, led by Ravener (Robert Longstreet), her revenge and what lies bandages.
If a movie with a title like “Ravage” appeals to you, then you likely know what’s in store. It’s a savage, uncompromising look at the cruelty humans are capable of. By definition the word means, “to devastate, waste, sack, pillage, despoil, to lay waste by plundering or destroying,” and that’s just the beginning in terms of how literally screenwriter and director Teddy Grennan takes the word’s meaning. It’s an unpleasant movie that doesn’t exactly celebrate the violence, there are no huge set pieces here, it more or less documents terrible things without lingering on the intricacies of the torture and killing, so I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies.
In a short cameo from Bruce Dern is suitably creepy, mouthing dialogue about how, “torture is the barometer of a nation’s creativity.” It’s the kind of role he could do in his sleep, but his presence adds a sense of gravitas which is blown in the film’s final moments.
You will not see the final twist coming, and I will not tell you what it is, but know this, if you thought “Ravage” would be a (SPOILER ALERT) an ode to female empowerment, you will be taken aback and disappointed. Harper’s resilience, despite some boneheaded moves along the way, display a resourcefulness that suggests she will emerge bloodied but unbowed. The film’s sick ‘n twisted final few moments lay waste to that assumption in no uncertain terms.
“Ravage” is a no-frills thriller of the hunter and the hunted that attempts to address moral questions about violence and revenge but instead gets caught glorifying the them.