Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Foreign Fears: LA HORDE (THE HORDE) (France -2009)

Review by Anthony Servante

Director:Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher
Starring:Eriq Ebouaney, Aurélien Recoing , Jo Prestia

La Horde (2009) is a French movie that combines corrupt police, gang leaders, and the living dead. At once familiar in its “surrounded by zombies” scenario, the story is yet fresh with the violent response of the people trapped in the building to the situation. Besides powerful weapons, the gangsters use martial arts and axes in some well-choreographed martial arts sequences to fight the zombies.

The first thirty minutes of the 90 minute movie follows some corrupt cops seeking vengeance on some warring gang members, but the officers are captured and tortured, and one of the cops dies and quickly becomes a zombie. After dispatching of the undead cop, the former enemies must now gather their forces to fend off the zombies working their way up the floors toward the fresh meat. This force of violent people works their way to the rooftop and there see the (unnamed) city in flames, and at the bottom of the building, they see hundreds of the undead, many entering the building. From then on, they must take the war to the zombies in a very uneasy alliance. They must fight their way down to building in the hopes of finding escape. They are not ones to seal themselves into the building and wait the zombies out. That’s the fun part of this movie. They take the fight to the undead.

It reminded me of the movie “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” (1958), where the space-ship crew worked their way up the rocket ship to its last level as the creature who stowed aboard the ship begins killing off the crew one at a time. Only in La Horde, the gang crew works its way down the building as they are killed one at a time. Similar to “The Dead” (2010), where the zombies have overrun Africa, and the soldiers realize even they are outmatched but try to keep the troops organized and restore order as chaos in the form of the living dead challenges them at every turn, La Horde finds violent, vicious criminals on both sides of the law, confronted by supernatural criminals that make them look like schoolyard bullies taking on an evil force beyond their comprehension. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to out-thug these undead creatures with brutal fist fights and hails of bullets (why does it always take them so long to figure out that destroying the brains is the only way to kill these creatures? They waste literally hundreds and hundreds of bullets before realizing that one good blow to the head will stop the undead). As good horrorheads, I believe we can put down a werewolf, a vampire, and a zombie with all we’ve learned from movies and books. And we all know the Frankenstein monster is afraid of fire. Sometimes it gets a little redundant to see a flesh-eating zombie attacking you and your first reaction is to shoot it in the chest until the bullets run out. If the series, Scary Movie, taught is anything, it’s that victims of the slasher genre can be familiar with the genre and know what to expect once they are thrown into a slasher situation. It’s up to the writer to keep the fans off-guard and in a state of suspended disbelief.

I could not find a copy of this movie with subtitles, so I watched it in French, but it wasn’t a problem as there is so much action that the dialog seems superfluous. If you can find it with subtitles, you might enjoy it more, but I had a blast watching it in the native language, and it was good to see a well-acted, action-packed zombie movie with heroes as tough as those hungry undead creatures. So, don’t expect a lot of answers to any questions you might have about what caused the plague of the living dead because there aren’t any. Just sit back and enjoy the movie. Intellectual queries should be checked at the door with the zombies on the other side.

I found a copy of the movie dubbed in English, but it doesn’t play as well as it does with French dialog. Anyway, click below to watch.

--Anthony Servante