Friday, October 1, 2010

Carriers - Home Video Review





Release Date: September 4, 2009


Review Vital Stats:
Service: Netflix
Download Type: Instant Stream
Picture Quality: Standard Definition

Biases:
Loves: Dystopian/Apocalyptic atmosphere
Likes: Chris Pine, Piper Perabo
Hates: Movies released due only to a cast member being in another successful movie


I am not sure what attracts me to these post apocalyptic/end of the world scenarios but for some reason they just intrigue the hell out of me. Maybe it is the idea of witnessing our society collapse and everything you know to be true to all of a sudden be turned on its head. This idea has propelled such classics as Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later into a whole other category beyond the run of the mill horror film. It scares you by making you imagine a world with no rules other than to survive any way you can. Directors Alex & David Pastor's Carriers is just such a film that takes the idea of our nation being overrun by a mysterious outbreak, shows how are society has fallen apart and the only law is every man for himself.

We are introduced at the outset to a small group of survivors as they drive down a lonely desert road where at first everything feels somewhat normal. The reality though is that the occupants of that car, brothers Brian Green (Chris Pine), Danny Green (Lou Taylor Pucci) along with their two female companions Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Kate (Emily VanCamp), are traveling cross country looking for a safe haven from a deadly disease that has devastated the nation. During their journey they must avoid other people all together, sterilize anything and everything they touch, eat, or sleep in and most of all try to keep what is left of their humanity intact as they try to protect themselves at any cost. As things go with these types of situations not everything works out the way it should for our four friends and their resolve is tested more than once throughout the course of the film.

Our four survivors looking for a ride but usually only finding trouble.
I absolutely love movies like this. Just the setting and the atmosphere of despair that covers every inch of what you see is entrancing. Just to let you know, I am one of those guys that likes to imagine what I would do if the world were to become suddenly overrun with zombies. I have it all planned out, depending on where I am when the outbreak occurs I will try to gather up as many friends and family as I can, especially those that are more physically capable, and head on over to our local Wal-Mart for some much needed supplies. Now I know most would stay there and hold up, but there would most likely be many other people with the same idea so after getting what we need we will head out of town and find someplace away from other the general population.
I know that sounds silly but there are many other people along with well known publications out there that think like that too and that is what makes a movie like Carriers so watchable to me. Granted, there aren't any zombies to be found here, in their place is a highly contagious disease that is transferred by either touch, breathing the same air in close proximity to a carrier or through bodily fluid exchange. That is of course how many diseases are contracted, however unlike the common cold this one kills and the results of that death are anything but pretty. This un-named disease has covered the United States like a plague (other countries are never mentioned) and the results are fairly similar to what I laid out in the paragraph just before this.

I don't think "Mike is Dead" is the special for the day.
There is never any explanation for the disease, never really any discussion about it other than how to avoid getting it and our four survivors don't really seemed to care too much about finding a cure since one of them thinks he is immune and every place they have visited that has said they found a cure has turned out to be a lie. So, they have decided that their only route to survival is to find the beach that both Brian and Danny used to visit as kids and hopefully hold out there until everything blows over. On their way to this supposed promise land they come across a handful of other "survivors" of which only complicate things for them.

The situations they are put in are not easy ones and some of the decisions that must be made are truly horrifying and depressing. This is not an uplifting movie, but that is not what it is trying to be. Characters make decisions that will make you hate them...but do you hate them because they made the right decision or the wrong one? There comes a scene fairly late into the movie when our little gang needs some gas from some strangers and when diplomacy fails to get them what they want one of the group takes matters into their own hands and ends up coming off a pretty evil person when it is all over. Whenever something like that happens it hits hard and fast which only makes its impact that much more shocking.

An abandoned medical care center.
This movie is quick also, it comes in at a brisk 84 minutes and none of that screen time is wasted. As soon as you feel like one location or character has started to out stay their welcome it moves away from that and into something completely different. The different locations are nice and varied as well, from an abandoned school turned into an emergency hospital to a huge resort complete with a golf course. Of course all of these places are either in ruins or are just eerily vacant which helps add to the feeling of a world turned upside down. This stuff is nothing new and has been seen in countless other movies of its type but that still doesn't change the fact that it was done well here.

Now, the movie's quality aside (which is quite high by the way), the real reason this movie is even a blip on anyone's radar is due to star Chris Pine. I am not entirely sure when this was made but you have to wonder about the reasons behind its release when it came out so shortly after Star Trek. It is nothing new when a film company tries to capitalize on their star's new found celebrity but usually those types of movies don't turn out so good. Surprisingly this movie dodges every single cliche that is associated with a release move like this and is able to stand on its own regardless of its star.

Unsurprisingly not everyone they meet is very friendly.
That's not to say he isn't a big reason for why this movie works so well because he is. He shows that cocky reckless nature you saw in his Jim Kirk but he also adds distraught and kind of crazy to that mix as well here. His character has two key moments where he has to make a decision that he doesn't want to make each with their own different implications and he nails both perfectly. Judging by his performance here and in Star Trek I think his career is Unstoppable.

All the other actors did a fine job as well. Piper Perabo is great opposite Chris Pine and even though there isn't much time given to their relationship due to the fast pace of the narrative I think she conveyed her emotions rather well. Particularly later on when she has to deal with the repercussions of a bad choice she made earlier. Both the brother and his not really girlfriend do OK with what they are given to work with, but the brother definitely gets some time to shine near the end which was nice. There were a few supporting characters that popped up as well but the one you meet near the beginning played by Christopher Meloni as Frank does a really good job displaying just the right amount of angst and sadness with his predicament.

Uh...whatever is in that car isn't worth it man.
If I had to level any negatives toward the film it would have to be the run time. I know I mentioned it as a positive earlier but it is more like a double edged sword in this respect. While on one hand everything moved along at a nice clip but because of that you never really get a good understanding of what the hell is going on. Like I said before there is almost no mention of what caused this outbreak or even how it works. Apparently once you are infected you start to decay until you eventually die? That is what I gathered using what was shown to me but you are never really told anything, not even a little side note. It works as a fast paced horror/thriller film but you can tell that if they went a little longer with certain sections of the movie that it could have been more than that.

Despite that though I really enjoyed the film and was pleasantly surprised that it didn't reek of that cash-in syndrome I spoke of earlier. It is a very well crafted first effort from the two directors and a fine entry into this genre of horror film. It also helps prove that Chris Pine has a prosperous future ahead of him beyond what we saw of him in Trek. I would say if you are a fan of the collapsed society scenarios like me that you will find a lot to enjoy here. And if you are just looking for a little harmless horror film you could definitely do a lot worse.


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