What is the difference between a hero and a coward? Where is the moral line between surviving hunger and gratifying gluttony? What was the true nature of manifest destiny? When you think "cannibalism horror flick," you probably don't expect questions like these, but Antonia Bird's 1999 genre-bending Ravenous surprisingly pauses to ask these questions before launching into some spectacularly self-indulgent gore. The result is a veritable smorgasbord of horror tropes and outlandish ideas that make up an unusual horror movie which might not be to everyone's taste.
Guy Pierce, hot off L.A. Confidential, plays John Boyd, a cowardly captain in the American army during the Mexican-American War. He has been decorated for capturing an enemy command after hiding under a pile of dead bodies, though he did so out of fear, not heroism. His superiors send him to a remote outpost in the Sierra Nevadas, Ft. Spencer, which is run by a Colonel (Jeffrey Jones), a drunk (Stephen Spinella), an idiot (David Arquette), a religious nut (Jeremy Davies), a soldier (Neal McDonough), and the two genre-required Native Americans (Sheila Tousey and Joseph Runningfox). When a half-mad priest (Robert Carlyle) appears in the night, telling stories of snowbound starvation and cannibalism, the ragtag group sets out to investigate. What they find is a bloody disaster.