When I saw the title Ravenstein my first thought was I’d found an EBM mad scientist film, Ravers meets Depraved if you will. Then I saw the synopsis and the director. A film about two friends who run afoul of a birdman in an abandoned factory, directed by Eveshka Ghost who gave us the three-hour, no-budget fantasy The Bastard Sword? And it’s free on Tubi? How could I not watch it?
David (James McClusky, The Bastard Sword) and Marky (Nik Kaneti-Dimmer, The Granary) are riding their bikes one night when they notice part of the fence around an old worksite has fallen over, with nothing better to do they decide to go exploring. They find an abandoned glass factory and some terrible jokes. “My dad used to work in glass. He was a glazier? Yeah, but he got out when they all started melting.”
They also find a homeless man, Jack (Chris Wilson, The Bastard Sword), living in the building. He offers them some of his booze and tells a creepy story about an old Romani woman. Marky goes off to resume exploring and finds something a lot scarier than Jack’s story.
For a film shot for just over a thousand dollars, Ravenstein looks very good. Despite being shot at night there are no issues making out what’s going on, a common problem on low-budget films such as Joker Scarecrow. There are no problems with the audio either, and even when the score cranked up I could still make out the dialogue. Some of the dialogue Ghost and co-writer Thomas Walters make us sit through while waiting for the creature to show up is rather clunky but it’s worth the wait for the jump scare from its first appearance. Ravenstein wisely keeps its feathered fiend in the shadows, revealing it a bit at a time as the film progresses.
Despite the need to keep the cast small, Ravenstein does bring in a couple of stoned doofuses Andy (Thomas Walters) and Charlie (Seth Easterbrook, Chalcedony: Ben and I) and eventually David’s father Ray (Martyn Eade, The Bastard Sword) to keep the plot moving and bump up the number of possible victims.
And the plot does get a bit more involved, as Ray used to own the factory and has some not-so-friendly history with the now absent Jack who was the plant’s foreman. Granted we have to overlook a huge plot hole about the creature killing off the factory’s workers and nobody noticing or the police getting involved. But Ravenstein’s backstory really doesn’t matter, we’re just here to see the title creature kill people.
Ravenstein doesn’t have much in the way of gore effects, the kills are energetically staged and plenty of non-CGI blood is shed. Similarly, once we finally get a good look at the creature it’s obvious that it’s a man in a suit. But it’s creepy looking and it’s a man in a suit, not CGI.
While far from perfect, Ravenstein is a load of fun and it was obviously made by people who liked the genre and wanted to make a film that would be fun to watch. They managed to make it look good, have a decent score and put a creature, kills and blood on display. There’s even a transformation scene and a monster versus chainsaw showdown. Somebody needs to sit Mark Polonia (Jurassic Shark 2: Aquapocalypse, Dune World), Dustin Ferguson (Amityville in the Hood, Apex Predators) and Steven M. Smith (The Haunting of Hythe House, Doll House) down and make them watch this. They might learn how to make an enjoyable no-budget film.
For those with access to it, Ravenstein is available free on Tubi. It’s also available on other Digital platforms and on DVD, Blu-Ray and VHS from the director’s website. You can also check the film’s Facebook page for any updates.