I think I first learned of Avenged when I read about it on Cracked. After I read the synopsis, I knew I had to watch it as soon as I could. Long story short, I ended up watching it subsequently am featuring it on this month's version of "Is it really that bad?". My previous entry in the column was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's San Andreas, where I asked if it was truly as bad as critics and audiences made it out to be. After watching the trailer, reading the synopsis, and seeing its low score on IMDb, I decided to see if Avenged really was 'that bad.'
The movie's about a deaf-mute girl Zoe (Amanda Adrienne) traveling cross-country to meet her beloved Dane (Marc Anthony Samuel). Why the character is deaf-mute, I'm not sure. It never plays into the plot. Zoe drives through Arizona and of course she crosses paths with HILLBILLIES who rape, torture, and murder Zoe. The end.
I'm kidding. A wise (of course) Native American man Grey Wolf tries to bring Zoe back from the brink of death. But what happens, because Indians are full of witchcraft and whimsy, is that Grey Wolf summons the ghost of an old Indian chief, who possesses Zoe's body to get sweet revenge. It's interesting to note that the main hillbilly brags about killing Indians, showing Zoe the skull of an Indian that his great-grandfather killed long ago, because the ghost that possesses Zoe is the same Native American who owned that skull, only in his body. As you can imagine, this is not a friendly Native American.
First off, it sounds like a cool idea. Kind of. Once you get past the Redsploitative nature of the premise, and you aren't one of those sensitive types, this sounds like it could be a fun horror movie. If executed properly, perhaps with a better script and if at least ONE above-the-line person involved was actually a Native American, then it might have been decent enough.
I grew up in Arizona, specifically in a rural area nestled between Navajo reservations, and the hillbillies in the movie brag about killing specifically Navajo men. The hillbillies are typical racist, gross, rapisty pigs (thanks a lot, Deliverance), the same hellbilly-type you've seen in every movie ever. The problem is, Arizona is in the south, but not the deep south, where those types of hillbillies come from. Arizona has hillbillies, sure, but they don't talk in southern drawls and drink moonshine. It's like how every bad guy in every period piece has a British accent, regardless of his character's origins or where the movie takes place.
The movie becomes Zoe/Bad Indian Ghost versus The Hellbillies, which, as it turns out, leads to some pretty kick-ass killings. But they are so murderous, only a "Savage Injun" could do them; shooting with arrows, scalping, ripping out a man's intestines, so forth. Normally you can't kill your main character a quarter of the way in, but it works here because we stay tuned to see the pay-off, to see the Hellbillies reach their inevitably brutal deaths. That's why we're invested. Not because Zoe's fiance, whom she never met up with, is on a quest to find her.
Remember earlier when I said I wasn't sure why Zoe was a deaf-mute? I ask because it does nothing but makes us sympathize with her. But we already sympathize with her because she loves her mom and has a fiance. I'm wondering why Zoe, if she is deaf-mute, talks on the phone.
Writer/Director Michael S. Ojeda, who, after doing some research I learned is nowhere close to being a Native American, plays with some cool zombie/supernatural conventions. There aren't rules set in stone, but there is a sense of realism; Zoe has to stay bandaged because she is, after all, a rotting corpse. Every day that she carries out her path of vengeance, she deteriorates more and more; her pursuit of revenge leads to her physical and mental breakdown. So at least there's something.
My general problem with the movie is the tone. It almost always takes itself way too seriously. With a set-up like "Deaf-Mute girl dies, becomes Native American zombie Chieftan to kill those who killed her", you have to understand that your audience is laughing before the opening credits. I think the tone could have been dark, yes, but there were no laughs or moments of levity. It is a horror movie, but there was no human element. The love story was so inauthentic that I was left hoping for some comedic relief somewhere, just to get me out of this dark chamber.
This one isn't great, but it was under ninety minutes, so I didn't waste too much time.
I can honestly say you can skip this one, unless you are morbidly curious or have an insatiable love for the terrible.