Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Movie Review: the Horde

The Horde popped up on Netflix online recently, and as it had come highly recommended I thought I would give it a try.  The Horde is a French film, with English subtitles, with an interesting zombie story set-up.  Four police officers launch a nighttime raid on a local Nigerian crimelord with the intent of avenging the death of a friend of theirs.  While inside the hulking, decrepit tenement the gangster uses as a base, the world is suddenly swarmed with zombies.  The police and the criminals have to band together to survive fleeing the building in what feels vaguely like the plot of Assault on Precinct 13.

For those who care about such things, these are not "slow zombies" but full hard-on fast zombies (or "ragers" as we know them from ATZ), which is necessary because all the characters are so badass that they could waltz through a city full of slow zombies without losing a step.  Whatever makes the zombies also gives them a mouth full of razor-sharp fangs as well, just to add to their threat level.

Like most good zombie stories, the real story isn't just surviving the predatory horde but also the tension within the group, and not even each "side" gets along with itself.  The characters aren't terribly well developed, and oddly the criminals end up having more of their personality come through than the police (the theoretical protagonists of the story).  The huge, bleak, industrial building, surrounded by the city lit up by fires, explosions, and the sound of artillery does make for a great backdrop for the story.

A few notes for the zombie enthusiast.  Like many stories there is no "why" to the zombie outbreak, just the reaction.  Curiously, at the beginning of the story the zombies are merely people who die and then come back (the "hell has no room for you" zombie) but through most of the film are the contagious "get bit and you'll transform in about half an hour" zombie.  In an unfortunate and probably unintentional bit of cinematography one of the zombies is seen having their breath create mist on a window, so maybe they aren't really dead?  Who knows.

One picky thing I did like was that there is a "suspension of knowledge" in the film regarding zombies.  No one ever uses the phrase "zombies" and they are completely ignorant of the usefulness of head trauma, even though the zombies are only taken out once that occurs.  There's moments in most zombie films where some character has that "a ha" moment and then suddenly it is a head-shot-o-rama, but I realized that I was three quarters of the way through the film and the characters are continuing to pump shotgun rounds into the torsos of these guys.  There's no established qualities to these creatures, like there might be if they were, say, vampires or werewolves.  In fact, only one person seems to get how it all works, but he's so crazy that he is totally disregarded.  Touches like that are always appreciated.

The Horde was definitely better than your schlocky zombie movie, without succumbing to the jumpy, jarring cinematography prevalent in your "dark building" horror films these days.  Definitely a good pick for zombie movie night.


  1. The .30cal scene in the corridor is a stand out moment.

  2. thanks for the review. i am going to have to check this out.

  3. I like that movie. It inspired me a great deal. Close confined spaces and lots of zeds and you have the living also as a concern. Paranoia is in full bloom!

  4. It's definitely one of the better made zombie films and is certainly one of my favourites.

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