Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: La Horde (The Horde)

Dir. Yannik Dahan & Benjamin Rocher, 2009, Roadshow Entertainment (Australian DVD Release).
In an abandoned tower block in an isolated town north of Paris, a group of cops-turned-vigilante prepare to exact justice for a murdered colleague. But as the gangsters they were seeking to assassinate unexpectedly take the upper hand, the unimaginable occurs: strange lights flash in the sky, the distant city begins to burn...and from the darkness surrounding the tower pours a multitude of feral, cannibalistic dead.

The genius of this film is that it starts off looking like something completely other than an apocalyptic zombie movie - specifically, like a gritty, brutal crime drama of the sort that Europeans currently do so damn well. Thus, by the time the audience even gets a hint of the undead mayhem to come (a good twenty minutes into the film), the gritty realism of the setting has become so firmly cemented that the unexpected onset of the apocalypse requires virtually no suspension of disbelief. The reality of the setting is matched by that of the characters, with highly believable performances from the central cast. Unlike the characters in many other zombie flicks, the characters here are given scant opportunity for emotional outpouring, grieving for fallen comrades, or personal revelations; these are hard-arse cops and gangsters, determined to survive against unthinkable odds, and thus the majority of the film involves a cold and methodical search for a safe escape route, punctuated regularly by some of the most brutal, violent and - yes - exciting fight scenes I've ever witnessed (including one beaut where a thug goes bare-knuckle against two feral zombies of the 'fast' variety).

In short, The Horde is a dark, brutal, gory, vastly enjoyable, adrenaline-fuelled, haunted-house-ride of a movie, and possibly one of the best modern zombie flicks ever made. Sure, that's a big call, but grab a copy of this DVD today, watch it, and tell me I'm wrong.