The Horde (2009)
★ / ★★★★
Benjamin Rocher and Yannick Dahan’s “The Horde” is yet another uninspired zombie apocalypse picture in which characters constantly argue while supposedly struggling for survival, but not one of them manages to offer a compelling angle. What results is just noise—screaming matches between the participants, sudden booming of the score and soundtrack, and the screeching, rabid undead from afar. Each passing minute is as unbearably subpar as the last.
The first act shows a glimmer of promise when four Parisian cops sneak into a rundown high-rise to get revenge on drug dealers who killed one of their own (Jean-Pierre Martins and Eriq Ebouaney portraying leaders of the police and drug traffickers, respectively). However, the opposite groups are forced to put aside their differences when they learn that the dead have risen and the building is already surrounded by the undead. At first, it appears that the filmmakers have an eye for action. It gets us from Point A to Point B with escalating tension. It knows how to employ silence and then break it at the right moment.
This promise, however, dissipates the moment hungry flesh-eaters are revealed. Despite excellent makeup, realistic-looking blood, and flinch-inducing violence, it is especially difficult to become enveloped into the reality of the characters’ circumstance since the screenplay lacks intelligence. For example, there is more than one occasion in which characters observe that one way to stop a zombie completely is to shoot it in the head. And yet there are numerous instances where they get trapped and start shooting the zombies at just about every place except the head—it is no longer scary, it turns silly and laughable. When characters are stupid, audiences tend to see right through the facade and it leaves a foul taste in the mouth.
There is a lack of variation amongst the personality of the characters. All of them act tough and hard—yet not one of them is especially smart, or sensitive, or commands a special will or knack for survival. Their differences are painfully superficial. There is no protagonist worth rooting for, but the writers decide it is necessary to create a final survivor simply because it is expected from the subgenre. The problem is, anyone could have predicted the identity of the last person standing from the moment a certain detail is revealed. We simply wait for everyone else to get picked off.
“La horde” offers nothing new to the table. It suffers from too many inconsistencies. For instance, early in the picture, one zombie commands such superhuman strength that not even three people are enough to take it down. Later on, however, a horde of zombies are unable to climb to the roof of a relatively small car to acquire their next meal. Not even zombie flicks are immune from having to establish certain rules and follow through such rules so that its universe makes a whiff of sense.