Horsemen (2009): Apocalyptic Film with no Apocalypse

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The 2009 film Horsemen, written by David Callaham  and directed by Joss Ackerlund stars Dennis QuaidZiyi ZhangLou Taylor Pucci and has a tiny cameo by Peter Stormare. It is a dark, moody, and overall unsatisfying film that does not so much end as run out of steam.

The film’s plot takes far too long in deciding whether it wants to be a supernatural thriller based on the Biblical reference in Revelations of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse or follow the more mundane, but rather chilling device of “normal” people using the horsemen as a reference in their grizzly countdown to a more personal apocalypse.

Quaid’s character of the widowed detective, Aiden Breslin is too self absorbed to evoke much in the way of viewer empathy and his oldest son, played by Pucci, is too passively aggressive to be likeable or to care much about. The film is full of too many incidents that have no logical trail to the events.  For instance, the significance  of the derelict Metropolitan theatre is never disclosed. So that Aiden’s returning to the theatre and the film’s final climatic scenes taking place there make no sense.

The apocalyptic theme of the film Horsemen could have used more in the way of an apocalypse with its ending. The climax of the movie was anything but. Unfortunately the lack of a satisfactory ending of the film also carried over into the characters.

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Ziyi Zhang, often referred to as the most beautiful woman in the film business, was once again put into the part of villain. It seems that Hollywood loves to take popular Chinese actors and make them villains. Ziyi, who leapt to stardom with western audiences with her performances in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, makes a good villain. If you don’t believe me, just watch Rush Hour 2, but she is ultimately wasted in the role of Peter Stormare’s adopted daughter who embraces the Biblical references for her, and other young people’s, own end.

Like the film itself, her character is left dangling at the end with no real closure in the area of her involvement with Detective Breslin.

The biggest problem with the film was its almost crawling pace. Everything appeared to moving at the speed of treacle sliding down an incline. There is no real action to speak of, except hear the end of the film and it is fleeting. A blink and you will miss it both times that it occurs.

I had tried to watch this film once before. Being a Dennis Quaid fan, I felt I had to see all of the film. Sadly the ending did not justify the amount of time it took to sit through two, one of which was incomplete, viewings.

I have nothing against films that move at a more languid pace. I enjoyed Stoker quite a lot, but the pacing of that film had a purpose, whereas Horsemen felt like it was wandering aimlessly through its storyline and only grudgingly revealing itself now and again. An almost frustrating, if not boring experience.

Fans of Quaid, Zhang and the delightful Peter Stormare would do better to avoid this particular film unless there really is nothing else to watch. Not a bad film, but more of a boring one.  A rather disappointing effort from all concerned. Horsemen is an apocalyptic film with no apocalypse and little in the way of entertainment. Horsemen is currently playing on the UK Netflix.

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Evil Dead Remake (Blu Ray Review)

Evil Dead Remake (Blu Ray Review)

Carriers (2009): The World Ends with a Cough

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As apocalyptic films go, this offering from the writing and directing duo of David and Alex Pastor is pretty damned good. In case you’re wondering why their names sound so familiar, it’s probably because they gave us the film Splinter as well as a few other gruesome films. I do mean gruesome in a “good” way.

The world has been infected with a plague. This viral (and air-borne) disease is an instant death sentence. With no cure in sight, survivors are trying to hold out until a cure can be found. The Green Brothers; Brian and Danny have teamed up with two girls and they’re heading to Turtle Beach. A place from their childhood; a place that holds happy memories and a chance to escape the disease.

Starring Chris Pine as the arsehole-ish older alpha male brother (Brian) of Lou Taylor Pucci (Danny) and the self acclaimed leader of their little band of survivors. The other members of the gang are: Piper Perabo as Bobby, Brian’s love interest and Emily VanCamp as Kate, who is maybe and maybe not, Danny’s love interest.

*On a side note here. Am I alone in thinking that VanCamp could pass as a Helen Hunt clone? She really resembles the older actress. Or is it just me? Answers on a postcard please.*

At the beginning of the film, this little band of travellers come across Frank (Christopher Meloni) and his sick daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) rather than help the two by giving them much-needed petrol (gasoline) they swerve their car around and cause damage to the oil pump. They wind up going back and “taking” Frank, Jodie and their car with them.

It is the addition of these two that changes the path of the film and affects everyone in the gang of four.

Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.
Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.

I really enjoyed the film, despite it being about the umpteenth apocalyptic film I’ve seen this year. (Jeeze, obsession much?) I decided to give it a go, even though the trailer was a bit misleading. It looked like yet another Zombie Apocalypse, but it is not. It is an ensemble “end of the world” film that relies on the power of the story and the actors to sell it.

I think they succeeded.

All the actors delivered, no matter how small their screen time actually was. Mark Moses (Paul Young on Desperate Housewives among other great roles) was brilliant as the emotionally shattered Doctor who the group meet in Farmington. Honourable mention also has to be given to Kiernan Shipka as the “masked” Jodie. Despite not getting to see her whole face for the majority of her performance, she sold it, baby, she sold it.

At about an hour and a half running time, the film is not overly long and the story moves forward quite well.

I got a huge “kick” out of one moment in the film where the group have decided to stay in a posh Country Club Golf Course Hotel (and yes, all such “posh” places must be capitalised, thank you) and they have inadvertently put themselves in danger. The two “blondes” of the gang, Danny and Kate recreate the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park (minus the velociraptors). To me, it was a highlight in the film and showed the makers sense of humour and their movie “geek-cred.”

This is a real 4 out of 5 star film mainly because of the strength of the performances. Amazingly, even though I did not like Brian, the leader, I at least understood him. So great result from “Team Pastor” and all of their cast.

Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.
Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.