February 11, 2011

Movie Review: Carriers (2009)

Each year there are always a few movies, usually horror movies, that get caught up in the system with a studio that doesn't know what to do with it. Movies that I hear about and have generally positive buzz but no release in sight. Of late two of those number are The Poughkeepsie Tapes and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. A while back Carriers was on that list, although it seemed to hit the home video market. It is one of those movies I was hoping to see on the big screen, but it was not to be.

The movie stars pre-Star Trek Chris Pine along with Piper Perado (Coyote Ugle, Covert Affairs), and a smaller role from Law & Order: SVU star Chris Meloni. Carriers was written and directed by the brother team of Alex and David Pastor. This is their first feature, and I have to say they did a pretty good job with it. It is not the best thing ever, but it is definitely serviceable, has its share of thrills and works very well with its small scale story set in a world where something much larger his happening.

Carriers tosses us right into the fray. We are not told explicitly what happened, how it happened, or why. Those are questions that don't really matter. They are certainly interesting to speculate on, but the story, as presented, has no room for them. This is not really about what is happening so much as it is a character study of those being affected, in the case we have four survivors, 2 guys and 2 girls.

They are in the midst of a viral pandemic and all they want to do is to get from where they are to a secluded farmhouse to wait things out. Seems simple enough, right? Well, you'd be wrong. You'd also not be at the movies, where would we be without surprises and conflict?

The Pastor brothers dole out the surprises at a nice even pace, which is to say Carriers has a definite slow burn quality to it. It is a movie where you watch the characters change as the situation becomes desperate. They start with one mindset and then slowly have that perspective shifted, sometimes without them knowing it. They are presented with a series of external threats which effectively change the people they are. I guess change is inevitable no matter how hard we fight it.

Carriers is an interesting film, it reminded me of a number of other films. Right at Your Door, Zombieland, Ruins, Trigger Effect and The Stand (I know, not a movie, yet anyway) all come to mind. This could very well take place in the same world as Captain Trips from The Stand, while the characters live by a number of rules, ala Zombieland although with a but more serious a tone. I am reminded of The Ruins because of the interactions of the cast, they are very similar in nature. Right at Your Door is because of the sealing off of the back of the truck they are in and the general feeling of paranoia. Trigger Effect comes to mind as this movie is a lot about how quickly people slip into survival mode at th expense of common sense and human decency.

I really liked Carriers, warts and all. It has your usual collection of people doing stupid things moments and its share of illogical leaps of logic, but when it comes right down to it, this is a tense slow burn horror/thriller that works. It has solid performances that are pretty much believable and I did find it a little scary. It is the sort of movie that dances around the edges of reality. Is it so unbelievable that a virus could get loose that could so so much damage to humanity? Think about the widespread outbreaks of H1N1, bird flu, and whatever else you can think of. Next you'll believe we could fall victim to a zombie outbreak.


Note: This was viewed via Netflix Watch Instantly.

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