Friday, December 11, 2009

Carriers (2009)

Am I sick of zombie movies? Well, truthfully, kinda. With the exception of a few entertaining ones this year (Zombieland!), I really wasn’t feeling the gut-munchin’ sub-genre in 2009. It’s not that I hate zombie movies (I in fact LOVE them) but nowadays it seems like everyone is churning out a formulaic film with the same gory set-pieces I’ve seen a billion times before.

So, I was kinda iffy on Carriers, even if “technically” isn’t really a zombie movie (like 28 Days Later, the victims are called the “infected” and have a virus). Like I really need another unoriginal post-apocalyptic movie to put me to sleep! Luckily, Carriers surprised me with its intelligent and emotional take on Armageddon.

Carriers tells the tale of four survivors, two brothers and their two girlfriends, who are making their way across the desolate American landscape after a virus has annihilated most of the population. The virus is extremely contagious and once you are infected and there is no cure and you’re as good as dead. There is not much else to the plot, which pits the survivors mostly against themselves and other humans who are simply trying to survive in a world gone topsy-turvy. There are no big chase scenes, no hordes of infected pursuing the survivors, but, to tell you the truth, I thought this take was refreshing. I liked how the action focuses on the drama that occurs between the still-living characters instead of on the infected.

You can’t go into Carriers expecting it to be another 28 Days Later, Land of the Dead or even Zombieland. It can barely be compared to zombie films, because it really isn’t one itself. There is no breakneck action and it is a very slow moving, quiet film whose intent is to show the horrors of being alone in a world where most people are dead or dying. Writers/directors Alex and David Pastor have created a movie that shows how frightening that loneliness really is.

The direction by the two directors is breathtaking. There are lots of shots of the wide-open road, desolate towns and stretches of empty land as far as the eye can see. When the characters enter buildings that may contain the infected or other squatters, the directors build dread and unease with the claustrophobic and dark settings. They even managed some effective jump scares scattered throughout the film!

The acting is top notch as well. You’ll recognize Chris Pine from this year’s Star Trek as tough older brother Brian as well as Piper Perabo as his girlfriend Bobby. His younger, Ivy League brother Danny is played by Lou Taylor Pucci and rounding out their rag-tag group is Kate, played by Emily VanCamp. Christopher Meloni plays a survivor looking for help for his infected young daughter, but other than a few other people the cast is extremely small. Most of the action is directed towards the four survivors, and they all do a fantastic job portraying a weariness that seems far too heavy for them to endure at their young age.

I know some will complain that nothing happens in the film, but I preferred the horrific drama unfolding with the survivors rather than suffer through another brainless (hehe) zombie/killer virus/end of the world flick. This movie will make you think, could I do that if my life depended upon it? It will make you ponder how scary isolation really is and make you wonder if you could leave your loved ones (or even kill them) if they became infected. How far would you go to survive? Carriers really shows the brutality of the human race but how that callousness comes with a price, even when it is necessary.

Carriers is not your typical horror movie, but in a genre over-saturated with insipid zombie flicks and over-the-top end of the world movies, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A downbeat, bittersweet film to be sure, Carriers is something to check out if you want something a little deeper than the typical brainless horror movie.

Order it on Amazon!

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