Rewind Review: 2009’s ‘Carriers’

carriers

Danny: “You break the rules, you die. You follow them, you live… maybe.”

Carriers is a post-apocalyptic Horror film written and directed by Alex and David Pastor.  It’s a film that seems conceived in that post-9/11 period when irrational fears about “dirty bombs” and biological warfare ran rampant; back when Americans were hording sheets of plastic and rolls duct tape; back when the US Government was still selling the lie of WMD’s to the populous; a time when even the air we breath was regarded as a potential source of devastation.

Check out my review after the jump.

Official Synopsis:  An apocalyptic tale of a viral pandemic that sweeps across the United States, and four fleeing friends who discover that they are far more dangerous to one another than any airborne pathogen.

Completed and promptly shelved in 2006, Carriers might never have seen the light of day were it not for the success of Joss Whedon’s Star Trek re-boot.  Once Chris Pine became a household name playing a younger & fitter Captain James T. Kirk, Paramount Vantage finally saw potential for Carriers, which also stars Pine. In a lot of ways, I think this delay was unfortunate; it probably would have been more of a stand-out film before the market became saturated with zombie/virus films of wildly varying caliber.

Indeed, I had an unsettling sense of déjà vu from the moment Carriers began.  This could be because I’d already seen this film, during a Netflix binge-watch perhaps, and forgotten it—but most likely it’s because almost nothing in Carriers feels original. We’ve got a rag-tag band of survivors navigating a wasteland in search of a safe-zone. Sounds like a movie we’ve already seen a million times before, like in Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, and I Am Legend (just to name a few).  But mostly, the attractiveness of the characters, the sexual tension, and “road-trip” aesthetic all feel extremely reminiscent of Zombieland.  Hell, both films are narrated and even lay out several “rules” for survival.  Of course, if it had been released in 2006 when it was finished as opposed to 2009, maybe I’d be saying that Zombieland felt reminiscent of Carriers.

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When I first started reading about Carriers, I heard a lot of comparisons to The Road.  I think this is mainly because both films take place in a sort of perpetual motion, focused towards a coastal destination.  But whereas The Road takes place in the aftermath of a nuclear assault, Carriers takes place in the midst of a plague that’s still unfolding. As we roll through abandoned towns, we see empty restaurants with half eaten meals still strewn about the tables; whatever went down happened quickly—and not terribly long ago.

I was truly impressed with how fucking bleak this movie is—especially for a film that’s only rated PG-13.  It’s also a more realistic, less outlandish film than your typical zombie/virus offering: No rabid transformations or reanimation from the dead, just a ruthless illness; this realism adds volumes of legitimacy. The crew of Carriers is in serious survival mode; they’re only looking out for themselves and don’t give a damn about unfortunate souls who cross their path.  This intentional heartlessness, they believe, is a vital component for survival.  A chapter that takes place in an abandoned high-school turned treatment facility is exceptionally gut-wrenching.  The situation reaches new lows when the dastardly virus manages to get its claws into one of their own.

Carriers makes excellent use of a talented cast. The landscape of the film (for the most part) is desolate, and almost rural.  But when characters reflect on scenes of large-scale chaos, the writing is so good and the emotions are so convincing that we can almost see the scenes they’re describing—better than any CGI effect by a long shot.  It’s a brutal world without a shred of candy-coating.

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The relationship between Brian and his brother Danny (played by Lou Taylor Pucci) is the emotional core of the film. Danny hates his brother’s hard heart, his lack of compassion that borders on cruelty.  But when Danny contemplates life without him, he’s forced to realize that he probably couldn’t survive on his own.  In a sense, Brian’s lack of humanity, his unflinching willingness to make impossibly difficult decisions, is what allows Danny to maintain his own empathy and compassion.  Together, they comprise a depressing yin-yang as they deal with each other from opposite ends of a nihilistic spectrum.

For PG-13 Horror, Carriers packs a mighty wallop. Fans of post-apocalyptic Horror will love this film, but those looking for a more exciting, shoot-em-up affair with evil mutants might find Carriers a bit too slow—or a perhaps too realistic for comfort.

3 out of 5 Skull Heads.

Trailer:  HERE

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Directed by Àlex Pastor
David Pastor
Produced by Anthony Bregman
Ray Angelic
Written by Àlex Pastor,
David Pastor
Starring Lou Taylor Pucci,
Chris Pine,
Piper Perabo,
Emily VanCamp
Music by Peter Nashel
Brick Garner
Cinematography Benoît Debie
Editing by Craig McKay
Studio Likely Story,
This is that
Distributed by Paramount Vantage
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About Saucy Josh

I write a blog for intelligent Horror movie aficionados called Blood and Guts for Grown Ups: https://bloodandgutsforgrownups.wordpress.com/ View all posts by Saucy Josh

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