“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Steven Kastrissios / Actors: Peter Marshall, Damon Gibson, Hannah Levien, Ron Kelly, Robyne Moore ... / DVD released 2010-03-01 at Kaleidoscope Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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The Horseman is a violent Australian thriller released in 2008.
Christian Forteski's 18 year old daughter is found dead of a drug overdose and overcome with grief he finds it hard to deal with her death. Things get even worse when he anonymously receives a pornographic film in the post with his daughter as the "star". He is horrified to see how drugged up she looks and this sets him off on a path of revenge to find find and kill everyone responsible for getting her into drugs and using her in the film. On his journey through Queensland, Australia, he meets 18 year old runaway Alice and takes her along on his quest for his revenge.
The Horseman is full of violence from start to finish. From the opening scenes to the last moments there is violence, blood and gore with barely any let up throughout the film. The only moments during the film where there is any sign of calm is when Christian is driving with Alice as his passenger and even these scenes are scattered with flashbacks of Christian with his daughter Jessie of him playing lovingly with her as a toddler.
Peter Marshall is more known in Australia as a TV actor but he was a good choice for the lead of this film. He's very credible as the angry grieving father and for the most part he takes his revenge on those he feels responsible for her demise with no evidence of remorse. Aside from the scenes when he's extracting his own particular form of extreme violent revenge, he has a pleasant face and looks like a regular middle aged guy.
The film editing/cinematography throughout the film must be mentioned. There are no "nice" scenes in the film but there are lots of close ups of scenes where our protagonist is extracting his revenge, be it with pliers, household hammers, pen knives and sledge hammers (Christian's pen knife has "Love Jesse" on it, implying it was a present from his daughter)! The way the camera pans in and out of scenes make them come across as more realistic. The violence isn't the sort that would make you turn away and cringe (mostly), but you hear the sound effects of the items being used and of course, the screams from the "victims". The one scene that did make me gasp in horror was when someone actually pulled of someone else's nipple off with some sort of pliers or clamps and then sealed off the wound with a blowtorch YIKES!
As for the reality factor - was the story credible? Would a mild mannered pest control guy go around killing people in this manner? Well if one considers the grief any parent would feel over losing a child no matter what the circumstances and then compound that with the fact that people took advantage of their daughter by plying her with cocaine and heroine to make her more docile to take part in a pornographic film, it's not difficult to imagine a father or indeed a loved one going to these extremes. Looking at it from another point of view one could say justice should be left to the law and ask why the police did not get involved sooner.
Alice, who Christian picks up along his journey, is played by Caroline Marohasy. I understand this was her first film. She doesn't overdo her role, just comes across as a young fairly naïve girl going to meet her ex boyfriend with a secret of her own. Her scenes with Marshall are quite poignant; their friendship grows and he tries to give her fatherly advice.
Overall I'd rate The Horseman with a decent 4 out of 5, although I'm not particularly a fan of films of this genre. The ending was satisfactory and wasn't dragged out unnecessarily.
The DVD has 3 deleted scenes; one of which is a scene with Christian's ex-wife, who doesn't actually appear in the film, another of which is a longer version of one of the opening scenes of the film and the third is a scene with Christian's daughter before her death when she returns from a night out at 7am and he questions her about her night out in a concerned manner. I think the scene with the daughter could have been kept in as it seemed quite relevant and we don't see the daughter at all in the film aside from as a toddler in flashback scenes and on a slab at the morgue.
As well as the deleted scenes, there's also a 35 minute special feature on the making of the film which was quite entertaining and refreshing to watch after all the violence of the actual film as you get to see all the "baddies" working with Marshall and the stunt guys and looking like they're having a good laugh working together. It's also mentioned that several of the characters had worked together previously so already had knowledge of each other's working methods. We also hear from the producer and composer and see the stunt artists working through scenes. Marshall did many of the action scenes himself during filming and he even shows off some of his bruises gained during filming.
There's also a trailer of the film with the tag lines "he can't bring his daughter back" and "but he can send her killers to hell"!
The DVD is available from Amazon for just under £5 but I think I picked up my copy from a local £1 store.
The Horseman was an official selection for Frightfest 2009 and won awards for Steve Kastrissios for Best Australian Film & Director at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2008.
Cast: Peter Marshall, Caroline Marohasy, Brad McMurray, Jack Henry, Evert McQueen, Christopher Sommers, Bryan Probets as Walters, Steve Tandy, Chris Betts, Damon Gibson, Hannah Levien
Director: Steven Kastrissios
Producers: Steven Kastrissios & Rebecca Dakin
Written and edited by: Steven Kastrissios
Music: Ryan Potter
Cinematography: Mark Broadbent
Release date: 2008
Duration: 96 minutes
Certification: 18 (lots of violence and lots of strong language)
DVD release date: March 2010
NB: In case you're wondering why the film is called The Horseman, I understand it's a reference to "The biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse symbolize death and destruction."
"A bloodthirsty revenge shocker" - Loaded
"A red raw revenge thriller" - Sky Movies
"Gratuitously elaborate" - Time Out
"Get Carter meets Death Wish" - Daily Mirror