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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

‘The Revenant,’ Horror Takes On Race And Military Suicide

Sometimes I read an article on Combat PTSD and decide to just move on because it is useless information or so wrong that no amount of countering it with cold-hard facts can fix it. This time, I am stunned by a reporter with a clear attempt of trying to understand Combat PTSD, yet getting it oh so wrong.
In ‘The Revenant,’ Horror Takes On Race And Military Suicide
Think Progress
By Betsy Phillips
Jan 22, 2013

This weekend I stumbled across The Revenant on Cinemax. According to Wikipedia, this film won a ton of awards, but I somehow missed it when it was in theaters (or maybe it never came to Nashville?) Either way, I was just looking for something cheesy to watch and there it was. It’s so good that I ended up watching it twice. (Fair warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.)

Not that it’s a perfect movie. It runs long and calls individual Wiccans “Wiccas.” But it’s really good.

The general premise of the movie is that Bart Gregory, played by David Anders, dies in the Iraq War and his body is shipped home for burial. He comes back from the dead, and his best friend, Joey, played by Chris Wylde, helps him cope, through murder, mayhem, and blood-drinking.

So, here, in The Revenant, when we’re watching a man come back from the dead and prowl through the streets for victims he’s not going to feel too bad about, we’re seeing a man come back from a war and find a society not set up for him to return to. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but he comes back from Iraq, scares the crap out of his friends with his behavior, becomes a criminal, accidentally kills his girlfriend, and then tries to kill himself, before being sent back into combat–as if being in combat has made him only good for killing.

It’s terrible to look straight at the fact that more people in the military died last year from suicide than in combat and that the military has an ongoing problem with people coming home and enacting violence on their loved ones. But, again, we see it on screen in The Revenant while we’re looking at something else.
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If you read the rest of this article, know this. This is about a horror movie and not about what is real for our veterans. Veterans with PTSD live with horror movies playing in the theater of their own minds with memories haunting them. To use them in a horror movie, especially one that has the subject being killed in combat coming back to life as zombie vampire.

This pretty much explains it. “The Revenant”: Zombies and vampires, via Tarantino

Sure, I see what some of the issues are – an absence of recognizable stars, most notably – and for the first few minutes you’re not quite sure what kind of movie this is, or who the main character will be. We begin with Bart Gregory (David Anders), a young soldier from California, who gets killed in a mysterious roadside ambush in Iraq. (I told you this was made in 2009!) Back in L.A. at Bart’s funeral, his weepy girlfriend, Janet (Louise Griffiths), and his drug-addled best friend, Joey (Chris Wylde), allow their alcohol-fueled grief to push them into a passionate makeout session. Does that event have something to do with the fact that, later that night, Bart will force open his coffin and dig his way back to the surface?

The fact this movie couldn't get a distributor for years should have been a good indication it should not have been done in the first place. When men and women killed in action are turned into this type of character it is sickening and fuels the image of PTSD veterans as some type of monster instead of what they truly are. As a wife of a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, I wish there were more movies about them in the real world and less movies like this using them to make money.

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