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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Avenged (2015)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Michael S. Ojeda

Starring:
Amanda Adrienne/Zoe
Tom Ardavany/West
Ronnie Gene Blevins/Jed
Marc Anthony Samuel/Dane
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Cute deaf girl (Amanda Adrienne) on a drive to see her boyfriend (Marc Anthony Samuel) is rape/murdered after witnessing a hate crime by a gang of Native American killing rednecks. She’s eventually brought back to life by a Shaman with a bit of a bonus: the spirit of a pissed off Apache warrior inside of her on top of her own soul. Both are yearning for a hot plate of cold-hearted revenge and they freaking get it!
THE LOWDOWN
I remember hearing about a little indie revenge flick called SAVAGED in 2013, it sounded right up my alley, as I adore the vengeance subgenre. I waited for its release to knee drop… it never happened, hence I forgot all about it. Now in 2015, I got asked to “review” this movie called AVENGED coming out today on VOD (WATCH IT HERE) and wouldn’t ya know it, it’s SAVAGED but re-titled for its North American release! I dove in and here’s what I got of out of it!

I love THE CROW (the first film and the graphic novel that is) and like many of you out there, I always craved to see a female Crow do the payback doo on celluloid. It has yet to happen hence I was looking at AVENGED to be a temp Band-Aid for that and it succeeded to varied degrees. This bad girl was basically I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE meets THE CROW with a dash of NINJA III THE DOMINATION like cheese grated on top of it and I wound up being somewhat scalped in the middle with the film. On one end, it looked elevated for its limited budget and I applaud what was accomplished here. One-man army Michael S. Ojeda (who was the writer, director, director of photography, editor, VFX artist and more) doubled downed on the visual aesthetics by way of kinetic shots, a groovy use of “focus/out of focus”, a gritty mood and some nifty editing tricks here and there (like “freeze framing”). Dirty yet stylized! I was lapping it all up fervently.

The actions scenes were well executed for the most part too! They didn’t have much cha or ching hence they pulled off a couple miracles here (with that visceral fight on a moving truck being one of them). The same went for the inventive kills and the crazy gore! How does a gooey tug of war with a man’s intestines, stabbings galore and lots of fun with a bow and arrows sound to ya? Exactly! My fav kill saw our avenging undead dame turn a dude into a pin cushion with arrows shot at him point blank range. That was probably the coolest scene in the whole movie for me. NOTE: As opposed to I Spit on Your Grave, the film cut away from its key rape scene early and I appreciated that. Graphic rape bits = always hard to watch, sometime too hard. Thanks for bypassing that and focusing on the revenge goods instead! END OF NOTE.

And huge props go out to then first time actress Amanda Adrienne for giving me an anti-heroine to love and root for via her well-balanced and mucho physical performance. At first she was vulnerable, beautiful and kind and when she returned from the dead she slammed her relentless, tormented and angry cards down on the table with gusto. I really hope this dame goes places, she truly owned this movie and sold the happenings around her and then some! A hero is only as good as its villain and thankfully Avenged had a solid one in Rodney Rowland.  Rowland exuded realistic menace by way of his earnest portrayal of the racist, rape-happy and white trashy Trey and he kinda looked like Patrick Swayze, which is always a good thing. Job well done!

With all them positives going for it, it was a bit of shame that the drawbacks grated me so much, starting with the narrative having too much fat on its bones for its own good. That scared “kid” (Skeeter) plot line for example was pointless and the same went for the “Sherriff on the case" cut-away subplot that needed to go big time! It brought nothing to the story line and sadly the dude that played the Sherriff (Daniel Knight) was one of the lesser actors here therefore making them already tedious scenes even tougher to sit through. Then we had the clash of tones playing against the experience. For the most part the film was played down, dirty and serious; and that’s when I dug it.  But in other instances, it was “lets take a visit to the cheese factory” time either due to weak acting from the side players, silly going-ons (anything having to do with the Shaman came off as pretty tacky) or lousy dialogue (the boyfriend yelling stuff while his undead girl was kicking ass = groan inducing). 

And was I alone in thinking that the musical score was often “off” in vibe and wasn’t mixed properly in relation to the dialogue (which was hard to hear at times)? That annoyed me. Finally, the “heart” of the film, which was basically the love story, simply didn’t work. Was it the writing, the execution or the random hammy acting by Marc Anthony Samuel? Yeah, that was it. Too bad, the stakes would have been so much higher if the romance had hit home. So there you have it fackers! AVENGED was a mixed bag for me, but one that I highly respected. Making films is hard, making films with little money is harder, making action/effects/location/stunt heavy films with a tiny budget is a suicide mission –  in this case: mission accomplished!  
GORE
This one was gorehound friendly! Lots of damage via arrows, intestines being ripped out, heartwarming scalpings, some heart eating, ripped flesh, a beheading and much more!
T & A
Nothing arousing here man. Not that kind of movie.
BOTTOM LINE
AVENGED was a schizophrenic watch for me! When it was good, it was rocking like Dokken and when it stumbled, it put Mr Magoo to shame! The key strengths of the film were definitely the visual style, Amanda Adrienne's astounding performance and the crazy/creative bloodshed. The drawbacks? Some weak actors, so yeesh dialogue, tacky scenes and some useless fat (Sherriff subplot). On the whole, fans of bold indie revenge films should get a kick out of this one! So even though my rating is not through the roof I do recommend you check it out! The positives make it worth a stab!
BULL'S EYE
Michael S. Ojeda next film will be the action/comedy Sleight of Hand.

This movie better give Amanda Adrienne the career boost she deserves. Playing "party girl" in Under the Night That Covers (2014) is not it.
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+0
6:31PM on 03/07/2015
Just a 6? Come on, the movie was way better than that.
Just a 6? Come on, the movie was way better than that.
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