July 28th, 2011

‘The Horde': An Unexplained, Unrelenting Undead Masterpiece


Available on: DVD/Blu-Ray and Netflix Instant Queue
Genre: Foreign Horror
Rating: 5 out of 5

If you are anything like me you have probably found yourself fed up with the lack of care and inspiration given to the zombie genre. Since Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake and Danny Boyle’s revolutionary survival horror, 28 Days Later, the zombie genre hasn’t seen a shining beacon of violence, tact, and characters. Yes, there was ZombieLand, but that film doesn’t fall under the zombie classification for me. It was, more or less, a coming-of-age film set in a zombie-infested world. Do not get me wrong, it was fantastic, just simply not the film true fans of the genre were hoping to see. Also, The Walking Dead series on AMC is just as polished as any epidemic entertainment should be, but being on television has still landed it outside of the criteria I am specifying. Amidst all of the overproduced, living dead propaganda presented to you in the form of collectibles, books, comics, and films, that pay no homage to the genre and are looking to cash in on a kitschy trend, there is but one film that has flown beneath the radar. This film is a true example of zombie cinema done right.

In 2009, visionary French directors Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher created their debut film The Horde. This is the undead genre at its best, and they got it right on their first try. What’s your excuse Hollywood? Abounding with stunning practical effects, gallons of blood, deeply woven characters, and fast paced action, The Horde is, hands down, a must see for any cinephile. The directors, who also served as the writers of this project, take the genre to a whole new level while staying true to all aspects of classic zombie cinema. Stringent detail and originality explodes on the screen while the hordes of the undead descend upon the characters. An added bonus to any horror film is death sequences, and hear you me, this movie broadcasts some of the best I have seen in years. There are no cliché dispatches of zombies and no over the top antics, just simple, straightforward brawling and ingenuity. This is also the first time I think I have ever witnessed human vs. zombie melee action in a horror film. A masterful work that is both brilliant and unapologetic.

The film starts at the funeral of a police officer. Four fellow cops, who you get the impression are corrupt, are in attendance and vengeful at the loss of their brother-in-arms. They decide to plan an attack on the murderous crime king pin, Adwele, who heartlessly shot down their colleague in the line of duty. The film is quick in getting the characters established and even toys with you as to which characters will live and which will die. As you are watching the 4 cops ascend towards the top of a dilapidated apartment project where Adwele runs his cartel, you are supplied with glimpses that something outside is amiss. Shortly after the 4 friends enact a flawed assault on the crime lord, all hell begins to break loose. Like with any cult zombie film there is no explanation given as to what caused the undead to walk or how to stop them.

Best scene in the entire film: Ouessom vs. the horde

Ouessem, the main protagonist, is a street-smart cop that is rough around the edges. He maintains a sense of stability among the chaos, all while striving to form an alliance between the criminals and his fellow officers to better their odds of survival. That situation alone is a cry of great writing, but by throwing the life or death battle against the unexplained and unrelenting undead gives this film an extra shot of adrenaline. In the claustrophobic setting of the apartment block, the dire circumstances in which the characters find themselves thrust into spills forth from the screen and into your subconscious. Fast paced action entwines with twists and turns in character development until the epically climactic final scene. If nothing I have described so far has sparked your interest I have one more reason to pitch in your direction as to why you must see this film. There is an eclectically dramatic and brilliantly choreographed scene of Ouessem vs. a horde of zombies in which he bare-knuckle brawls with the reanimated corpses. It left me speechless. Easily the best scene put to film in the last decade, (in my opinion.)

Not only does The Horde fill the void left by a lack of quality control within the zombie genre, it also, in a sense, serves as an exercise in audience participation. Threads of details, whether they are minor or major, are slowly fed to you throughout the film’s progression. The intriguing part is that not all of these bits of insight are true. Certain information may be purposefully skewed as the directors toy with your emotions. One of the other brilliant features is that not all of the details you are supplied are false, so you are left pondering possible outcomes as the ending draws ever nearer. If you are in the market for a thriller that will not force-feed you dialogue, cliché scenes, and predictable twists, then I strongly suggest you access your Netflix, switch off the lights, and sink into a comfy chair because The Horde’s no-holds-barred action will blow your mind like a double-barrel shotgun.

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