Monday, August 6, 2012

The Horde (2009)

Title: The Horde (2009)

Directors: Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher

Cast: Eric Ebouaney, Claude Perron, Aurelin Recoing, Dou Dou Masta,


Along with vampires, zombies are the most overused creature in horror film history. Like Sherlock Holmes, James Bond or Dracula, the zombie movie will never die. They’ll lay dormant for a while until a director comes along and re-invents the genre again, then we’ll get a whole new wave of zombie movies and so on and so on. This is what happened with the release of 28 Days Later (2002) and Resident Evil (2002). The zombie movie was dormant during most of the 90, but when those two films hit the scene and made some serious cash at the box office, suddenly zombie movies were cool again, then came Dawn of the Dead (2004) and blamo, that film decided zombie films would be around for a while, cause dammit, apparently the general population can’t get enough of the undead. We’ve even got a whole television series based on the living dead! And so, this latest rash of zombie madness has lasted until today, where surprisingly, it is still going strong! Personally, I’m looking forward to World War Z (2013); it looks like it will end up being the mother of all zombie movies; here’s hoping! 

Zombie movies that come from abroad, like say Europe or Japan are even more interesting then American zombie films because they can go further with the gore and the horror elements. The biggest benefit that European filmmakers have is that their ratings system isn't as strict as the MPAA, so they  don’t have to worry about editing the gore or the violence in their films as much because they don’t have to cut their movie down to get an ‘R’ or a ‘PG-13’ rating; which of course translates to far gorier horror films. Examples of this are films like Martyrs (2008), High Tension (2003), Frontier(s) (2007) and Inside (2007). The last three films on that list are French horror films inspired by American Horror, funny thing is that these films took the levels of graphic violence and gore further then the very films that inspired them, and they are great horror films by the way, highly recommend any of those films I’ve mentioned above. They are the cream of the crop of French horror as far as I’m concerned. And so, speaking of French horror films, today I’ll be reviewing The Horde; a zombie film that comes to use from two first time French filmmakers Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher. All I gotta say is wowzers, what a debut!

Same as in many zombie films, The Horde does not give a full blown crystal clear explanation about how the zombies got here, the zombies simply show up and we have to deal with them. In this case, the story centers around a very disparate group of strangers who suddenly find themselves trapped at the top of an apartment building; depending on each other to survive the zombie menace. Problem is that the group of people couldn’t be any more different from each other, some are gangsters, others are the policemen that were going to perform a raid on said gangsters and others are simply civilians who live in the building. So the gangsters and the cops have to put their differences aside so they can deal with the zombies, question is: will they? On top of all that, they can’t simply walk out of the building because every hallway and staircase of the building is populated by hordes of zombies! What to do? What to do?

The thing about The Horde is that it goes step by step through the zombie movie formula, and if you’ve seen a lot of zombie films, then there’s not much on this one that you haven’t seen before. We get the group of humans who hate each other, which is something that George Romero loved to do with his own zombie films, to make the humans more villainous than the zombies themselves, to portray the humans as their own worst enemies. On this one it’s Gangsters vs. Cops and the white man vs. the black man, which of course brings Night of the Living Dead (1968) to mind. We have one of the good guys turn into a zombie, we have the lonely zombie who breaks into the house, we have the scene where the good guys find a stash of weapons, we have the good guy who sacrifices himself for the good of the team, the asshole who turns into a hero and last but not least, the good guys looking at the apocalypse from the roof of a building. For Christ’s sake, all we needed to complete the zombie cliché list was a scene with the good guys writing “Alive Inside!” on the roof of the building. So yeah, there’s that “been there done that” feeling to the film, but in spite of all this, did The Horde manage to bring anything new to the table? Does it at the very least entertain? That’s a very resounding HELL YEAH! This zombie movie rocked!

 What I enjoyed the most about the film is how excessive it is. It really goes overboard with its themes. Where an American film might restrain itself with the amount of stabbings that a character will inflict upon a zombie, on this film the character stabs a zombie 30 times and they will show the 30 stabs. If a character is going to fight a zombie, the fight is extensive and gruesome. When a character is confronted with a horde of zombies…trust me, things get gory. Wanna see an old man blow a horde of zombies away with a huge ass machine gun? Look no further! By the way, this reminds me, The Horde has one of the most memorable zombie sequences on any zombie film EVER! This is great because every zombie movie should have at least one memorable scene, but this scene I’m talking about really takes the taco as one of the best. I’m speaking of course of the scene where one of the characters is surrounded by hundreds of zombies all around him and he goes nuts with his guns and his machetes…truly awesome, I double dare any true zombie fan out there not to clap by the time that scene is over. But there are many moments like that one on this film which is really what makes it stand out. They went out of their way to shock us, so kudos to these filmmakers for aiming for that and achieving it gloriously. The film might be walking on tired ground, but it does so with gruesome gusto.

Best Zombie Scene Ever! 

Once again French horror has kicked American horrors ass. The Horde did everything you’d see in an American horror film but with that much more blood and violence. Save for a dull moment near the middle of the film where characters start talking about their own personal experiences and view points about the zombie apocalypse, most of the film is filled with none stop gore and action, as a horror fan and a zombie fan, I walked away both surprised and pleased. I say give this film a chance; if you love your zombie movies gory and violent, you will end up loving it. In my book, this is truly awesome zombie film that deserves more exposure. So this is an emergency broadcast from The Film Connoisseur to all those zombie loving fiends out there: go rent/buy this movie now!  

Rating: 4 out of 5 


Manuel Marrero said...

Good movie. But they didnt explain why the zombies were there, and dont give me that its the end of the world blah, blah, blah. Good accion, great acting. I actually prefer this one better than dead snow even tho this one is more drama and D.S is a dark comedy.I wanna see it again just to see if i missed some explanations.

eddie lydecker said...

Why rent it or buy it when its freely available on YouTube (along with LITERALLY everything else ! ! !).

Franco Macabro said...

Manuel: They never explained why the zombies appear, we only see some explosions in the distance and thats it, they leave it up to you, same as in Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and many other zombie movies...the reason why the zombies are there is sometimes not important, it's the mayhem that ensues, and the way the characters try to survive it that matters.

Eddie: I think films don't look as good on You Tube, the quality of everything goes down, which is why I prefer to buy or rent. You Tube I only use when I can't find the film anywhere else, like films that are out of print, and even then I hesitate.

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I’m not sure I understand where you get the idea that “Europe or Japan are even more interesting then American zombie films because they can go further with the gore and the horror elements”, Francisco.

You seem to feel that because of the U. S. Motion picture rating system that American horror films are less violent and graphic. Have you seen any of the Saw, Hostel or other R rated horror films? I honestly don’t think I’d want a horror film to be any more graphic than those films.

You go on to say that “The biggest benefit that European filmmakers have is that they don’t have to worry about editing the gore or the violence in their films because they don’t have a rating system”. This is just not correct. Every country in the world, including Europe has some type of film rating system. France, for example, must, prior to showing a film in theaters, must obtain a license (visa d'exploitation) from the Ministry of Culture. The films are then assigned a rating very similar to the USMPRS: U (Tous publics) valid for all audiences - 10 (Déconseillé aux moins de 10 ans) unsuitable for children younger than 10 (this rating is only used for TV); equivalent in theatres : "avertissement" (warning), some scenes may be disturbing to young children and sensitive people; equivalent on video : "accord parental" (parental guidance) - 12 (Interdit aux moins de 12 ans) unsuitable for children younger than 12 or forbidden in cinemas for under 12 - 16 (Interdit aux moins de 16 ans) unsuitable for children younger than 16 or forbidden in cinemas for under 16 - 18 (Interdit aux mineurs) unsuitable for children younger than 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18. I doubt that these graphically violent horror films are getting any larger an audience in France or other European countries than they are here in the United States.

I do agree with you that The Hoard has a “been there done that” feeling to the film, but that it did indeed "rock“! I watched The Hoard streaming on Netfilx over a year ago and have been recommending it to anyone who likes zombie movies since. I liked this film because it had some of the characterization of a Romero film, as you mentioned, with the more action-packed visceral violence of Snyder. I personally don’t remember it for being overtly gore-filled or violent, which means I must have been more enthralled by the characters and storytelling than the bloodletting. I’m a fan of all styles of horror films – I still enjoy the old Universal classics from the 30’s and 40’s – so I honestly don’t care how much blood and violence is in a horror film, as long as it tells good story: and with horror – preferably a terrifying one!

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Fritz: If you've seen any of the horror films I mentioned on the review, films like High Tension, Martyrs and Inside...then you know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not knocking American horror films, I love them, you know that, but the facts are the facts, European horror can go further, nastier and darker then ANY American horror film can, why then do you think the goriest bloodiest films come from abroad? Why do you think the blood in Evil Dead II kept changing colors? Because Raimi was afraid of the MPAA giving him an X because they have this thing about the amount of RED BLOOD you can show on a film,! This is why Tarantino had to change some scenes in KILL BILL one to an entirely different color! So he wouldnt get in trouble for all the red blood. This is obviously not an issue with European films.

Recently I bought a dvd of Martyrs and was furious to discover that it was butchered...because I bought the R rated one....big mistake! I needed to get my hands on the unrated version! This is what I'm referring to. In Europe its okay to show X amount of gore...but here it is not? What gives? Is their ratings easier on their films or something?

You state Saw as one of the grizzliest, but honestly, have you seen that film recently? A lot of the gore is suggested, you don't even see it because half of the time they are fast forwarding the scene or rewinding it, or flashing, or cutting....a lot of the gore in those films is suggested. And when shown, it is briefly.

The motion picture association of america has a lot to do with that. In order for a film to be "R" it has to comply with certain limitations that European films dont have to deal with, hence the gorier aspect.

I don't want to sound like all I care about is gore and violence, I enjoy good psychological horror, and films that achieve the horror feel without having to rely so much on gore, but I do enjoy me a good gory film! American films have to deal with this problem only with theatrical releases..straight to dvd gets a bit more gruesome.

You have a point about the Europeans having their rating system for their films, but it has nothing to do with the MPAA. You have enlightened me, I was under the impression that they didnt have any ratings system at all. I'll look into this further, thanks for the heads up!

The Horde was pretty gory dude, there's a scene where they smash this dudes face against a wall repeatedly, over and over and over, his face looking worse and worse and worse with each smash, it reminded me of a similar scene in Irreversible. The scene with the old dude shooting at all the zombies, the other dude chopping up the zombies with his many others...that scene where they blow this zombies head clean off with a shotgun! Wowzers, fun grizzly stuff!

I love all kinds of horror films too, from the more visceral ones, to the more getting under your skin slow burners, it's all good as long as they scare and or entertain.

Thanks for commenting as always!


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