Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Horde (2009)

Sara's Synopsis: and I quote; "it's like someone wanted to make this awesome cop drama but realized it sucked so threw in zombies!"

Comments: I love zombie movies! No, seriously, there's a reason I amwriting one, I want to be a member of the same club as the great Romero; and I think I have a pretty cool idea. Besides that I talk about them constantly on The Creepercast, I bask in the glory of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' (of which we discuss live, as it happens, during commercials, on The Creepercast Presents 'The Walking Dead' live podcast). Along with that, then, I obviously love to watch any and all zombie movies no matter how good or bad. That includes 'The Horde (Le Horde)' brought to us by a want to be Romero in France. I have to say honestly, the zombie part of the movie is awesome, and I have admitted on the regular podcast that I understand that zombie movies are more about human interaction than cannibalism and headshots. I also realize that if you cut all the drama out of this movie it would only be about 30 minutes long. But I also don't think that would necessarily be a bad thing.

Ok, here's the web of drama in brief - so these cops are operating off the grid with the intent of wiping out these gangsters that killed a partner. We find out later the dead cop was operating off the grid when he got killed and is the baby daddy of the only female member of the team thus a love triangle between the dead cop, the female cop, and his brother the cop. Both of which, with a couple others, are the ones seeking revenge. The two main gangsters are brothers originally from Nigeria where really bad things happened to them. The leader brother is ruthless but sensible while his younger sibling is impetuous and easily lead astray by their sick and twisted companion "the Carny." Apparently their thing is cocaine since there is a lot of it. Both groups have a couple other members but they are mostly there to be shot or eaten. Oh, and there's also this old guy that serves as comedic relief and the buffer between the cops and gangsters. He's pretty sick and twisted himself having been in the great war and refers to everyone not worthy of life as chinks. Bored yet? Well then good thing this all happens at the same time as the zombie apocalypse!

As Sara mentioned in her synopsis, this was one boring movie until the zombies showed up. And I for one loved the foretelling signs of the zombie horde lingering like a storm over the city. The opening funeral scene paid homage to Romero, and though they didn't do anything for about a half hour you knew they were always lurking just outside the camera frame. It seems the director, though, was going for a Rodriguez/Tarantino style ala 'From Dusk Til Dawn' by giving us this cops and gangster story before getting to the brains of the matter. It may have worked if it weren't for one small classic French cinema technique, noir. More importantly the use of long, drawn out scenes of tension intended to make the audience uncomfortably connected to the main characters. During scenes of drama it only made me wish it would hurry up, dragged the story down, and basically made me want to kill someone, like the director. Again, I say all this totally understanding the fact that a zombie movie is truly the study of the human condition. So I can accept the struggle these two groups have with learning how to work with each other in order to survive. Turmoil in the group is going to cause people eventually to go their own way and bad things are going to happen to the ones that deserve it while heroes will die valiantly. So that I accept. But when the sickest individuals start discussing violating a hobbled female zombie in the middle of their escape I expect them to get eaten. Not turned into heroes.

Which finally brings us to the zombies. These zombies were amongst the best I have ever seen! A lot of love and creative know how went into the effects and the over the top battle scenes I have been describing as a cross between 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'Evil Dead 2.' it would be easy to believe that the director was aiming for creating the longest zombie fight scenes ever and I do believe he's in for the record. We have hand to hand combat and various weapons in play here with the best and longest going to our self sacrificing hero who took on a whole horde with a machete while standing on a car. If I were to rate this movie purely on the zombie story it would get a 10. But alas...One can't help but ask themselves, how did the characters miss the fact a zombie apocalypse was happening around them? How many times must they shoot a zombie before realizing headshots are all that put them down (especially after actually seeing it work)? It is an interesting twist though that one would find revenge more important than self preservation in the end (this is not really a spoiler btw).

I was lucky(?) enough to catch this film on a big screen at this little art house theater downtown. Those of us in Albuquerque know it as The Guild ( and it's actually a pretty cool place to catch a film you might not get to see in the bigger movie houses. The film was presented as the last of their October Midnight movies that featured many other such on the fringe foreign and B-rated movies. Some people even came in costume and they gave away a few door prizes that comprised as soundtracks or DVD copies of some of the films they'd shown. I didn't win anything but even so I enjoyed the small theater atmosphere and everyone there was happy and lively. I think enjoyed the “oh shits” and general laughter at the absurdities on the screen more than the movie itself when it comes down to it. I am definitely looking forward to more movies there and strongly urge if you ever have the opportunity to do so yourself to follow up on it. Damn the quality of the film, atmosphere can sometimes be everything!

So there you have it, rating up to 10 I give the cop drama a 4 for being too dramatic and too French (if you like long painful tension though it's truly for you). Looks like I went with a 10 on superb zombies! And I'll go with an 8 on presentation, The Guild is awesome but sometimes the movie kills the atmosphere. That averages to an almost unworthy 7.3333333333333333333333333333333333333333 (and so on). As far as cop drama goes it is pretty tedious, but I'm a firm believer that adding zombies to anything will make it better. Just cut out some of the drama a bit.
'Til next we bleed,