To be completely fair, I was up late last night, I didn’t have my usual caffeinated drink this morning, and I decided to watch this movie laying supine on the couch… in the end though, I truly believe that it wasn’t any of these factors that led to my nearly constant nodding off during The Horde… no, I’ve watched plenty of other movies during this experiment in similar conditions and while I may have been a bit drowsy, I never actively fell asleep… until today. Here’s what it comes down to, I truly believe that certain sub-genres are almost completely played out; possibly chief among them is the zombie-movie. I don’t think any of you can appreciate how painful it was for me to write that last sentence. I love zombie movies… for most of my late teens and twenties I was completely obsessed with these films. I worshiped at the altar of George A. Romero (and still do). Hell, Night of the Living Dead was one of my classic date movies… and it worked shockingly well. Back then there weren’t many of these films to choose from… I remember having to go to four different video stores to hunt down a copy of Day of the Dead… and then borrow my friend’s VCR in order to make a bootleg copy (I can’t believe what life was like before the internet… we lived like luddites). Even when the internet became a place to hunt down the weird and the macabre, there wasn’t much in the way of zombie movies. I remember spending a night doing research and only coming up with five zombie-movies I hadn’t seen before… then I started the long search to find Bio Zombie (a Hong Kong zombie movie that takes place in a mall… weird stuff… I may have to revisit it later in the summer). So, I’m sure many of you are thinking I’m going to take this as the hipster approach of complaining that I liked zombies before anyone else did (which, for all intents and purposes is true) and that once it became mainstream it became lame. That is simply not the case… The Walking Dead is one of the best things to happen to the zombie-horror film subgenre. It’s everything I ever wanted… it’s basically a weekly Romero movie. So, what’s my problem with the modern zombie-movie… in reality, it’s simply a matter of diminishing returns. Similar to haunted-house movies (another subgenre that I feel is nearly played out) there is only so many places you can go with the core concepts. I’m not saying that all new zombie movies are just retreads… however, the truly unique zombie movie is getting fewer and farther in between.
I had high hopes for The Horde. The first thing it had going for it is that it’s a foreign film (French (with subtitles) to be specific) and what I’ve discovered over the past month or so is that non-US horror movies are more likely to take risks and do something different. Second, the film seemed to take a unique approach: a group of rouge cops go into a condemned building to hunt down a gangster who killed one of their own… this just happens to coincide with the zombie apocalypse… the cops and robbers have to work together to get out of the building alive. At times it felt like a combination of The Raid: Redemption (in setting and scope… not in the fight choreography, unfortunately), a Guy Richie movie, and your traditional zombie film. Sounds great, right? Well, I am sad to report that the ingredients that went into this stew began to separate about twenty minutes into the film until all you were left with was a traditional zombie film. This is when I started to get sleepy… the filmmakers did a completely adequate job with the zombie stuff… it’s just that I’ve seen this movie… dozens of times before: humans turning on each other, people debating how to deal with one of their own who gets infected, someone offering to “hold them off” as the others escape, etc. There were a couple of twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming (though, that could have been due more to the drowsiness than the movie itself), but by then it was too little too late.
One last thing that I think is important for me to point out… I don’t have a great understanding of current French politics or history… therefore, there were clearly elements that were supposed to be meaningful that went over my head. It is completely possible that these elements may have made this film more enjoyable if they connected with me.
Time for a long weekend!