Ahhhhhh, the zombie movie. As Hollywood starts to run out of politically correct enemies that can be universally hated, zombies rank high among cinema’s go-to baddies. For the broadest box-office appeal, producers need a villain that won’t offend the delicate sensitivities of any demographics out there. And I’m not talking about the lone criminal mastermind or rogue agent. We’re talking about an entire group of evil doers that everyone can say, “Yeah, fuck those guys!” Communists are too outdated to be of much help as a serious threat. Chinese provide a valuable international movie market, so they’re out. Middle Eastern terrorists are still a viable choice, but racial profiling and liberal backlash pose too much of a risk when it comes to money-making blockbusters. Nazis have remained steadily popular over the decades, but after 60 years audiences get it: Nazis bad. That basically leaves you aliens, demons, and zombies.
This French-made horror fest came highly recommended from a close source of mine (Margaret Cole) who has great taste in movies, comics, etc. So obviously when she told me to watch “The Horde” I put it straight on the Netflix queueueueue. When it arrived in the mail I put on my horror movie sombrero and sat down to revel in the slaughter. The movie starts off with a renegade quartet of cops looking to deal out some street justice, Punisher style, to a badass gangster who was clearly responsible for killing one of their own. He might have also been someone’s brother or husband or something. There was was definitely a family dynamic to these guys, but chainsaw to my head I couldn’t tell you who had been sleeping with who. Lengthy exposition and storyline were not among this movie’s strengths. But the rogue, off-duty police officers find the ganster and his thugish posse holed up in some condemned slum of apartment building. Unfortunately, shit goes down, and soon the po-po find themselves a man down and held at gunpoint.
And guess what happens next! If you answered, “it turns out the gangsters were dealing in black market pharmaceuticals, and a pathogen was released with horrifically necrotic and gruesome side effects,” you’ve been watching too many Resident Evil movies. But seeing as how those things account for something like 40% of all new movies anyway, I can’t say that I blame you. No, the correct answer is: zombies just show up. Seriously, one minute you’re watching the French equivalent of “The Departed,” and then BAM! Zombies. monsieur Jack Nicholson gets his arm bit off. And no one ever seems to know or care why. There’s a shot from the rooftop basically showing a war torn city skyscape. It’s possible that Frenchy simply handed over the keys to the Eiffel Tower when the first undead cannibal showed up, but the audience will still have no clue where they came from by the time the end credits roll.
So, is the enemy of my enemy my friend? In this case the answer is a resounding “sort of.” An uneasy alliance develops between the law enforcement and the law not-giving-a-fuck-about as the two groups team up to try and escape the derelict building with their collective butts intact. So a pretty sweet premise, decently high production values, dramatic tension, and enough gore to choke the sifting grate at a slaughterhouse. And yet… what went wrong? Well for starters, there’s no consistency when it comes to the zombies. Sometimes they’re superhumanly strong and fast, while at other times they flounder about like, uh… I don’t know, Flounder. From the Little Mermaid. That’s one problem. Another problem is that the plot gets progressively more convoluted as the remaining survivors band/disband/betray/rape (yes, ZOMBIE rape) on their way to freedom. Personally I don’t think this something I should be dedicating a large portion of my brain’s processing power to when I’m watching a movie about dudes killing the shit out of monsters.
All in all, not a bad flick and a decent horror movie. Plenty of fun and entertainment to be gleened from this flick. You’ll be treated to some genuinely awesome moments of splatterific proportions, although the shakey-cam/fast-cut style gets sort of obnoxious after awhile, and sort of cheapens some of the experience. I’m gonna give this one a half-mast salute. More impressive than nothing, but not enough to get the job done.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!