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cast: Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins, and Eriq Ebouaney
director: Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher
90 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail
review by Gary McMahon
I was rather pleased when I received The Horde (aka: La horde) to review. I had heard about the film, and it sounded like the
kind of thing I would enjoy. Someone I knew saw it at a festival and there was a press blackout regarding even the film's title, so that made
me interested in seeing what it was all about. A few other friends of mine whose opinions on such matters I trust had told me I would love it.
Yes, the signs were good for this one: I thought I might have a winner on my hands.
Okay, so I'll start with the positive. The Horde is refreshingly bleak and takes itself seriously - something a lot of modern horror
doesn't bother to do. It's well made and looks pretty great. The plot is a nice spin on John Carpenter's
Assault On Precinct 13 (itself an urban spin on Howard Hawks'
Rio Bravo) and the whole thing is carried off capably, at times even skilfully.
The storyline involves a small group of policemen (and woman) carrying out a late-night raid on a tower block where a criminal mastermind is
holed up. The cops aren't out for justice; they want revenge for the killing of a colleague. The lines between good guy and bad guy are nicely
blurred, and everybody's a bit of a bastard (even the woman). Once the action starts, it becomes clear that a zombie virus is causing chaos
in the city outside the tower block, and policemen and criminals are forced to join forces to survive.
The downside of the film comes with the tone, I think. The filmmakers have tried so hard to make The Horde unflinchingly bleak that at
times it almost becomes funny. There's also a problem with emotional engagement: I watched the thing feeling utterly detached from the characters
and their predicament. It's yet another in a long line of films were I can't even remember the names of the characters while I'm watching, never
mind afterwards when it comes to writing a review. I even broke off halfway through to make a cup of tea, and didn't even bother to hit the pause
This does not serve the film well - it means that watching it is a bit like sitting through a violent cartoon, where you really don't give a
shit what happens to anybody. Even the gore starts to get a bit boring, and you ache for some decent character development.
More than anything else I was reminded of Lamberto Bava's ropey old VHS gem Demons 2, where a party in a city centre tower block is
invaded by the titular demons and a lot of the tenants are turned into zombies while the rest try to get out of the building. There's a whiff
of the same madcap mayhem and even a similar black tough-guy character who talks in a growl.
I'd like to watch The Horde again, if only to see if a second viewing is more rewarding. Perhaps my expectations were raised too high
after a recent bunch of rather brilliant French horror films (Martyrs,
Inside), and I've dismissed this out of turn. I'm certainly willing
to give the film another chance, and I'd urge any fans of horror or zombie films to give it at least one. The Horde is worth watching,
but it just doesn't live up to the hype. Not for me, anyway.