Talk about a feast of vengeance…Savaged, the new film from writer-director Michael S. Ojeda, takes the tried-and-true formula of the rape/revenge film and mixes it with the white-man scalping genre of Redsploitation (Native American revenge). The combination makes for one kinetically brutal thriller filled with heaps of graphic violence and sincere heart. Literally, a heart gets eaten in this movie. If you hate racist redneck rapists as much as I do, then Savaged is one helluva cathartic experience.
Zoe (Amanda Adrienne) is a deaf woman finally ready to make the big step and move in with her boyfriend a few states away. Her mom is reluctant to let her little girl go, especially since she’ll be driving all alone through the desert. If something goes wrong, Zoe will be alone, unable to call for help due to her handicap. But Zoe’s love drives her forward and the trip is going fine until a pick-up truck of good ol’ boys gets in the way.
This band of shitkickers are hunting Natives for the hell of it when they come across Zoe. They bring her back to their filthy little redneck compound and rape her as she’s tied to a bed with barb wire. When they’re through with her, she’s buried in a shallow grave. Her corpse is discovered by an old Native American, who takes her body and performs a resurrection ritual – but something tagged along from the otherworld. The spirit of a pissed off Apache warrior now inhabits Zoe’s unassuming frame and it wants revenge on the ancestor of the cowardly man who killed him long ago. That ancestor just so happens to be one of the rednecks who raped Zoe.
Ok, first off this set up is fucking amazing. A deaf girl raped and murdered is revived with the spirit of an Apache inside her. Just let that soak in for a second.
Zoe is an incredibly sympathetic character even before she’s assaulted. She snaps a lot of photos of the landscape during her drive, which she sends to her boyfriend so he knows she’s alright. But her photo sessions also let us know that she’s lived a sheltered life before this. Her mom probably kept her close – afraid that the world would be swallow up her poor, deaf daughter. So Zoe’s absorbing every moment of her trip and taking in the outside world for the first time. And although she doesn’t speak, Amanda Adrienne does a great job emoting a sense of kindness. Already we’re in love with this girl.
So not only do we want Zoe to get her revenge, there’s also the spirit of the Apache who was betrayed and murdered by this redneck’s prick ancestor. That’s a double dose of glorious vengeance! Ojeda certainly knows how to get an audience’s blood boiling, but how’s the retribution in Savaged?
Satisfying and absolutely glorious. Zoe takes out the redneck assholes one by one in a variety of brutal ways. Intestine tug-o-war, anyone? My favorite kill was when she plugs a guy full of arrows at near point-blank range. It was the least graphic, but had me pumping my fist with each draw of the bow. Zoe, who begins the film exuding a warm heart, is eating one by the end of the film – her eyes blazing with hot revenge. Her transformation is astounding and a testament to the strong, silent acting of Adrienne.
There’s a love story at the heart of the film as well. Zoe isn’t completely possessed by the Apache – sparks of her former self struggle with the spirit and she’s forced to come to terms that she is, in fact, dead. Saying goodbye to her boyfriend, Dane (Marc Anthony Samuel), isn’t easy and before the end, they share some touching moments together.
While a five-skull review may sound generous, Savaged delivers on all levels. Ojeda knew exactly what kind of movie he was making and what the audience would want to see. This rape/revenge/Redsploitation hybrid is delirious fun that’ll knock you on your ass. Time to dig up the hatchet and take some scalps!