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Obviously minimal- budgeted, Carriers comes off as an action-packed film like Dawn of the Dead or The Hills Have Eyes, as one expects it to be. I visualized it to be blood-curdling and no emotional content whatsoever.
I must admit, I'm surprised with its cinematic value and drama. Tears threatened to spill over from my eyes in one scene. The action is still intact, and suspense- charged scenes are also present, but what will strike you the most is the drama as familial ties are tested and eventually broken. The choice between life and death is made every day, and there is also some romantic hints in the movie, although it is sparse.
Some strong language is perpetrated, so parents, I caution you. Their production value also deserves to be commended, especially their make-up and set effects, they scare you to the bone. Their sound effects are also to be applauded, with its spine-tingling aura in every suspense scene.
I'm not entirely sure what drew me towards this film. After all, the number of post-apocalyptic/zombie films around are ever increasing, and a lot of them are distinctly average. Carriers though seemed a bit more focused on its characters and not so much on the survival and fallout element that such films often focus on.
From the very start it seemed as if I was right, as we join two brothers and their female companions (a girlfriend in one case, a 'friend' in the other) driving across the countryside in non-descript America. It's not for a few minutes that we actually find out that there has been some sort of epidemic, people are infected with some sort of virus that eventually kills them, and they have set up some rules for survival against catching this infection.
Sticking closely to the rules becomes sorely tested when they come across a man and his young daughter, she infected but he not. With our quad having a damaged car and the father and daughter needing gas for theirs, they have to work together, however reluctantly, and their human nature, their rules and their instincts for survival are put to the test.
The result is quite effective as a film. We are treated to a focus on the characters as their conversations allow us to see the knit of the group, who has what place, and also see their true colours as the forlorn girl's infection starts to affect her quite dramatically. The acting is quite good, headed up by Chris Pine, getting a string of decent roles in under his belt. He is supported well by a largely unknown and very small cast, including Piper Perabo, she of Coyote Ugly fame, and overall our small band of characters are very realistically presented.
That the film focuses on the characters means that the special effects of the film don't really come into play as much as they might have to in similar films that focus on the situation and the action. As a result, what little special effects there are end up being toned down somewhat, making it somewhat more realistic and closer to something that you may actually expect to happen: rashes happening on the infected, followed by coughing up blood and eventually your blood system failing, or so it seems. Much more realistic than people just turning into zombies.
Written and directed by the Pastor brothers, David and Alex, this is quite a stylish pandemic film that succeeds largely because it focuses on the characters as opposed to following the usual mold of giving us a horror zombie movie and throwing wasteful if effective special effects at us. If I had one criticism it would be that the ending is rather weak, the film petering out rather than ending on a memorable moment, and I find myself easily remembering scenes during the film and even some dialogue much easier than the ending. However, this still doesn't spoil my enjoyment of a film that surprised me by how much I actually liked it. Recommended.
**FILM ONLY REVIEW**
We hired this film on DVD. It's rated 15.
'Carriers' is a relatively low-budget movie, filmed in 2009, featuring a small cast. These are Chris Pine (the new Kirk from the 2009 film 'Star Trek', a relaunch of the franchise), Emily VanCamp (possibly best known as Rebecca in tv series 'Brothers & Sisters'), Piper Perabo (best known for 'Coyote Ugly') and Lou Taylor Pucci. There's also that guy from 'Law and Order: SVU', yes that guy, you know, he's the police officer (Christopher Meloni). The first four form the core of the film: it's their story.
The film is set in a post-disaster world, where 'the infection' is killing off the human population. Our foursome are two brothers, Brian (Pine) and Danny (Pucci), Brian's girlfriend Bobby (Perabo) and acquaintance Kate (VanCamp). They are crossing the country via back roads on their way to the coast, to a childhood holiday home they hope will be a safe haven.
To survive they live by a set of rules they've devised for themselves, the primary three being:
"1. Avoid the infected at all costs. Their breath is highly contagious.
2. Disinfect anything they've touched in the last 24 hours.
3. The sick are already dead. They can't be saved."
It's a perilous journey and a confrontation with a stranded man (Meloni) and his sick daughter means they end up without a car, while he has no fuel. How they resolve this and the further hazards along the road is a test of their rules and a test of their characters.
Can they really treat the sick as already dead, can they afford compassion, can they avoid infection?
It's a movie that covers familiar ground in its set-up: I mean, the small group in a dangerous situation, the journey/road aspect, the post-apocalyptic scenario, even the threat of the virus, the leanings towards rather clichéd stock characters, in the nerd & jock relationship between the brothers (which reminded me somewhat of Sam & Dean in tv series 'Supernatural'). That said, the film does make the material its own. It's hard to shake the expectation of zombies somehow, but you do get over that.
As a low budget film, it doesn't have much in the way of special effects or stunts, it's driven by the relationships between characters and how they cope. It leans towards a naturalistic style. There's minimal exposition, so you just have to accept the initial premise of the unnamed infection sweeping across the US. At least we're spared the cliché of a montage of news-clips from all over the world: for the purposes of this film the world is limited to the car the characters are in, the road ahead and the places they stop.
Although the film is marketed as a horror/thriller, it is more a drama. There are gory bits but it's not a particularly graphic film: it's more symptoms of disease than violence. Its pacing may be on the slow side for adrenalin junkies.
I liked that the film stuck to its narrative, had no easy outs and wasn't afraid to kill off people. The main characters aren't always likeable, they're selfish and committed to surviving at all costs. I actually liked that about the film, that they weren't these heroic figures.
In the beginning Pine's performance was very similar to his depiction of Kirk (apparently this film was made before 'Star Trek', but released afterwards) so we weren't really seeing anything new from him, but as an ensemble it was well-knit, over all. VanCamp has very little to do throughout, while Meloni's presence as the loving father was a good turn.
It's a reasonably short film at 80 mins and I'd say worth a look. I wouldn't buy it, but for rental it's a decent watch.
If you want to buy it, it's available from Amazon new at £4.49.
DVD product details (as available from Amazon):
# Actors: Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp, Christopher Meloni
# Directors: Alex Pastor, David Pastor
# Format: Anamorphic, PAL
# Language English
# Region: Region 2
# Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
# Number of discs: 1
# Classification: 15
# Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment (UK)
# DVD Release Date: 26 April 2010
# Run Time: 80 minutes
# ASIN: B00347A43O
A deadly virus killed almost all the people on the planet and only a small group of people have managed to survive so far. The virus is still a big treat and the only way to survive is to be very careful and to avoid people who are infected. This is easier said then done.
Running: 85 minutes
Director: Alex Pastor
Country: United States
Christopher Meloni as Frank
Piper Perabo as Bobby
Chris Pine as Brian
Emily VanCamp as Kate
Lou Taylor Pucci as Danny
The story is about two brothers Brian and Danny, who are survivals of a virus who killed almost all people on the planet. Together with Danny's girlfriend and a friend of Brian, they are on their way to the house at the beach where Brian and Danny also spend their childhood holidays. They are hoping that they can sit out this virus. It's far from easy to get to the house. There's hardly any petrol left and there are still people who are infected with the virus. Breathing the same air or drinking the same liquid can infect you. Rule number one is to never get in contact with other people. When they run out of petrol, they don't really have a choice to seek help with a man and his daughter who's clearly ill. It causes much concern within the group, but they think they have a solution for the problem, but if it will be safe enough? It's a long way to the house.
I know Emily Vancamp, who plays the rol of Kate, the friend of Brian. Emily is known for her role in the television show Brothers & Sisters. Kate is an survivor, which has made her very careful but also tough. They cannot afford any mistakes, but the one is tougher then the other one. Kate is strong, but has her weaknesses. I thought Emily plays the role really well and was believable in her emotions. She's is trying desperately to get in touch with her parents and tries every public phone she can find, even when she knows they just don't work anymore.
Chris Pine is also a known actor for his role in the movie Star Trek as James T. Kirk. He plays the older brother who tries to protect his younger brother. He really has to make the difficult decisions to make sure they are safe. A really nice performance by Chris and I really start to enjoy him as an actor.
When i saw the trailer, I didn't really know what to think. It looked like a psychological thriller movie with not a lot of action. More about how the people are dealing with the effects of the virus. Luckily this is not the case. You see how they are dealing with the virus, but there's also a lot of action and drama to keep the film interesting. The group certainly have a difficult time trying to survive, not only because of the risk of getting infected, but also people looking for petrol and everything else. I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was really well told. The actors are believable in their performances and the special effects look real. Certainly a movie to watch if you are into these movies!
Disclaimer: As with all my movie reviews, this is about the film itself rather than the DVD. I generally don't watch extra features or deleted scenes as they are usually removed for a reason and detract from the film as it was intended.
Key Stars: Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp, Christopher Meloni
Carriers is a 2009 Horror movie written and directed by 2 brothers Alex and David Pastor. It details a group of survivors fleeing from an unknown viral pandemic, escaping to a childhood favourite spot called Turtle beach, on their way they have many encounters with the virus that test their strengths as friends and family. Although this is technically a zombie movie a lot of the focus is set on the virus and how to avoid it rather than the transformation afterwards.
This movie contains a lot of merits that make it a decent horror movie from the acting to the scene setup and feeling of isolation throughout. There is a lot of emotion played out that draws you into the characters and makes you wonder what you would do in this situation, especially with some of the decisions they had to make. Personally I liked the way it did not focus on packs of super zombies tearing down the streets mauling everything in sight, and sets itself apart by being slightly different (well, as different as a zombie movie can be!)
Biggest downside for me was the ending. Although it's satisfyingly chilling for this genre of movie it leaves much too much open and leaves you wanting more.
Overall I would recommend this movie, especially to horror fans. It's not anything substantially different to all the other thousands of zombie flicks out there but manages to set itself apart by taking the mind in a new direction. Enjoyable, not groundbreaking.
note: also appears on my film review website, TheFilmBlogger.com, thanks!
The first scene of The Pastor Brothers' horror film Carriers did not leave me with much hope for the remaining ones; when does gorgeous cinematography become over-direction, and are these teen-aimed jibes going to make this another tiresome slog through familiar territory? Surprisingly, this low-key thriller, although minor fare and hardly inventive, is worth more than its box office dollars will ever tell you.
Carriers refreshingly does away with the preambles that have predominantly plagued the horror genre, plonking the viewer right into the milieu of a post-apocalyptic landscape ravaged by a virus that turns the infected into crusty, degenerating piles of rotting meat. The story revolves around two brothers - the arrogant and supposedly immune Brian (Star Trek's Chris Pine), with his girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo), and smart but frustrated (after Yale University was shut down by the virus) Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), with his friend Emily VanCamp (Kate) - as they drive across a desolate American landscape in search of shelter.
Although it begins painstakingly, things get more interesting once the gang comes across a desperate father (Oz star Christopher Meloni) and his ill daughter, who claim that a school far away has a vaccine. It is here that we see the wide effects of the virus, of how people have killed each other, and racial tensions have reached an apex (with a crude sign reading "the Chinks brought it"). Perhaps most disturbing is a brief glimpse of a dump truck full of human remains, bagged up like cases of rotting meat, and it is these little details that in many ways make this worthwhile (another being a messily-scrawled sign over a gas station that reads "Mike is dead").
Again, though not particularly original, Carriers manages some mild creepiness throughout the journey, such as when the team comes across a doctor driven to mania by his failure to devise a vaccine, who eerily declares that "sometimes choosing life is just choosing the more painful form of death". The film also manages to nail the paranoia that would surely be endemic in a scenario such as this, where a speck of blood near a wound or an opening can mean death. One particularly telling scene has the father reluctant to help his daughter to a portable toilet in fear that the gang will drive off the second he leaves, which totally underpins the inherent lack of trust it takes to stay alive.
Still, in many ways, Carriers is also about the inertia and cabin fever of the apocalypse; it is like a less humourous Zombieland, for we see them riding golf carts and squatting at a lush abandoned hotel, and while it is a strange execution for a seemingly straight-laced horror, it mostly works. Furthermore, when it wants to be, it is quite suspenseful, managing a few jumpy moments that don't rely on cranking the score up to 11.
Though generally steering clear from melodrama, the film does have a savage mean streak, embodied in Pine's character Brian, who is ruthless right to the film's climax, although in actuality is also probably the group's natural born leader. The moral tension between him and the more human (but consequently more vulnerable) others leads to an ending that delivers a satisfying end just when you think that it might succumb to more conventional genre elements, such as delivering an added jump scare at the end, or de-evolving into a ham-fisted romance story.
All in all, Carriers is a minimalist, meditative, and gorgeously photographed horror film that does little to reinvent the genre, but is a breath of fresh air in a stale genre due to its genuine emotional plausibility and lack of idiotic characters.
In a post-pandemic America four friends are on a road trip through the desert, seeking a place to live in peace and isolation until the virus - or everyone else - dies out. Brothers Brian (Chris Pine) and Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci) want to return to Turtle Beach, a place where they spent holidays in their childhood, which they associate with happiness and safety. Bobby (Piper Perabo) is Brian's girlfriend and Kate (Emily VanCamp) is a friend of Danny's.
The brothers have created a set of rules to live by in order to avoid contagion, which involves staying off the main highway, and not getting involved with anyone infected. They have a saying that anyone with the infection is already dead anyway. But as they travel they find that's not so easy to live by. The friends begin to have conflicting opinions about what's right and wrong, and what's necessary to do to stay alive.
Chris Pine as Brian is the oldest brother and the dominant character in charge of the group. Pine seems to have established himself as a reckless character as the youthful Captain Kirk in Star Trek, and he takes on a similar role here. He's hard drinking, loud, highly sexed, full of himself and prone to getting into fights. However, that's where the similarity ends. Kirk was, in spite of his faults, a likeable and heroic character with a clearly defined sense morality. Brian, however, has a much darker side. He isn't remotely likeable, although, as the film goes on and we learn more about him, his behavior becomes more understandable. What starts off as an arrogant, two dimensional character begins to develop more depth.
Lou Taylor Pucci is more likeable as Danny, the younger of the brothers. He's more sensitive and with a stronger sense of right and wrong, although lacking in confidence when it comes to standing up to his brother. However, although he seems a nice guy, he's also frustrating, as it doesn't seem likely he would survive long on his own.
Piper Perabo as Bobby is almost as loud and brash and highly sexed as her boyfriend Brian. The two seem to be well suited, and equally emotionally volatile. However, although they are alike in some ways, Bobby has a soft feminine side which makes her vulnerable.
Emily VanCamp as Kate is more remote and hard to understand at first. She seems to come from a middle class, well educated family and the others don't know her very well. She seems mousy, and like Danny, doesn't seem tough enough to survive long, but suddenly starts to spring to life during a game of golf and we begin to see what she's really made of.
There's been some effort to create characters with some depth, that we can get to know more and more as the film progresses. The interplay of the different characters is interesting, making you wonder what you would do in their situation. How ruthless could you be to survive? It's a bleak film, extremely sad in places. This is not about America (and presumably the world) in the throes of a deadly pandemic, but in the immediate aftermath, where the few survivors struggle to stay alive, mistrustful of everyone they meet. Strangely it was reminiscent of the darkly humorous Zombieland, which also dealt with the aftermath of a deadly virus and had four friends travelling in a car together looking for some long remembered perfect place to live in safety. It seems to indicate a swing in film trends away from telling the story of the catastrophic event itself (as in 2012), towards examining the aftermath, something that worked very well in 28 Days Later. Like 28 Days Later, Carriers is a low budget film that relies more on story and characters than special effects. It works well enough to be entertaining, although isn't really as strong or big on shocks as 28 Days Later. However, it is a film that lingers in the mind for a while afterwards, as it shows how horrific circumstances can change a person and their beliefs, and that not everyone is what they seem.
For a low budget horror, it's worth a watch, although it's not really horror, more of a drama. The acting is competent and the characters are a bit more fleshed out than usual for the genre, although there's no-one in it that shines out quite like Cillian Murphy (at the time unknown) in 28 Days Later. It's a film that illustrates the dark side of the soul, and as such it makes gloomy viewing. It's worth a watch though, if you like the idea of Zombieland without the laughs, or the zombies.
Director: Alex Pastor
Running time: 84 minutes