Basra, Iraq. American soldier Bart (David Anders) seems conflicted as he and his platoon drive through the night in their jeep. Driver Bart suddenly runs over what he believes to be a young boy and, against his comrades’ advice, leaves the vehicle to investigate further.

Moments later he’s shot to ribbons in an ambush.

Back in his homeland, Bart is presented in an open casket for his loved ones to pay respect at his funeral. The minister offers an odd sermon, suggesting that there is no place for Bart in Heaven because he was not a religious man.

That evening, Bart’s best pal Joey (Chris Wylde) tries to make sense of it all in a nearby bar with Bart’s girlfriend Janet (Louise Griffiths) and spiritualist friend Mathilda (Jacy King). They get drunk, Joey and Janet snog before thinking better of it, they cry a little ...

Meanwhile, in the cemetery, Bart awakens and breaks out of his fresh grave. Much to his own disbelief, he has returned as a revenant – an articulate and intelligent variant of the undead.

His first port of call is Joey who he hopes can confirm that they’re in the middle of an extremely bad dream. No such luck: Bart is the living dead, and Joey is suitably horrified to find him banging on his apartment door in the early hours of the morning.

Still, being a good friend, Joey lets Bart into his apartment and manages to see past his terrible odour and decomposing flesh, offering his buddy a seat and a slice of pizza. The food makes Bart copiously sick; it quickly becomes apparent that he needs blood as sustenance.

It’s an odd set-up, but the pair soon becomes comfortable with it and before you know it they’re drinking together, playing pool in a local bar, smoking dope etc.

But it’s not all plain sailing. Mathilda confirms that Bart is "doornail dead", while Janet remains oblivious to her lover’s true state. Meanwhile, Joey tries to convince Bart that he needs to toughen up and find blood to keep his embalmed cadaver thriving. He is a "vampire" after all, according to Mathilda ...

Although it’s too long at almost two hours in length and takes some time to get to the really good stuff, THE REVENANT is a very well-made and enjoyably daft film.

It looks great, benefitting from being shot on film and in 2.35:1. The cinematography is clean and stylish and decayed interior designs impress, while writer-director-visual effects supervisor D Kerry Prior has assembled a good-looking cast to further complement the glamorous aesthetics on offer.

Of course, it helps that they can act too. Anders and Wylde share a great chemistry and manage delivery of the often pithy dialogue with comic ease. Able support is a bonus, as is the pumping soundtrack that bolsters the action when needed.

Although THE REVENANT is definitely more comedy than horror, it still manages a few impressively dark set-pieces (the feeding sequences; a gross moment of barfing; the effectively tense pre-credits scene) and finds just enough restraint in its screenplay to help us empathise with these characters.

But the main fun is still be had in watching Bart adapt to his new disposition, be it bungling a robbery of the local blood bank or squirming at the thought of drinking from the wound of a fresh corpse. Anders wisely plays such scenes in deadpan fashion, ably highlighting the absurdity of the scenario without resorting to slapstick.

Clever, sexy and assured, THE REVENANT is an entertaining romp with minor flaws (specifically its length) that keep it from being great.

THE REVENANT looks superb on Universal’s region 2 DVD.

Proffered in a pin-sharp, immensely detailed 2.35:1 transfer and enhanced for 16x9 televisions, the film (shot on 35mm) looks incredible – as good as standard definition can get, I’d say.

Audio comes in a rocking 5.1 audio mix, with choices of English or German languages. Optional subtitles are provided in English, French, German and Netherlands.

The main menu page is a colourful animated affair made all the more attractive by a rousing punk number that plays on loop.

A static scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

Extras begin with a 12-minute Making Of featurette, which is a light-hearted mix of behind-the-scenes footage and handheld interview takes. It’s all pretty tongue in cheek, but makes for an interesting watch too.

12 minutes of deleted scenes follow. These are presented in 16x9 widescreen and add more comedy, gross-out humour and rock music to the party. They all look great, although not all scenes have been colour corrected.

Finally we get treated to no less than three lively audio commentary tracks. The first and arguably best comes courtesy of Prior; Anders, Wylde, King and Griffiths serve up a more humorous chat track; the third and most technical talk is offered by Elvis Jones and his fellow FX artists.

THE REVENANT doesn’t always hit its target but is generally good fun, offering an entertaining take on both the vampire and ‘buddy movie’ genres. It was better than the superficially similar DEADHEADS.

Also available on blu-ray.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Universal Pictures UK
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review