Welcome To Lazarus

Instead of a "BANG", humanity is passing away with the shuffling of dead feet, and hungry moans. Desperate men and women fight against the rising tide for the newly risen dead.Sometimes, though, the undead are not he most dangerous things out there. Civilization has failed the test; the only thing left is survival.

Lazarus is just one of many places where humanity holds on by a thread, and life and death come as easily as a roll of the dice.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Horde - Movie Review

I love Netflix, especially the Instant View feature.  It gives me the opportunity to watch all sorts of movies that I would not normally see.  I don't go to theaters except on the very rare occasion; maybe once every 4-5 years.   Netflix has quite a few zombie flicks.  Most are real stinkers, while others are really good.  I am going to periodically review these movies in order to showcase what I consider the gems, and save someone the pain of watching others.  I'll do my best to highlight the good parts, warn of the bad, and not ruin it by giving away too much of the plot.  Now, with no more undue tarrying, on to my first review.

The Horde (2009)
"The Horde" is a French zombie flick that is surprisingly good.  Who knew the French could do horror?  Filmed in 2009, it is not your run of the mill B-grade zombie movie.  I would say that production values are on par with big hit movies like "Dawn of the Dead (2004)" and "Zombieland", even if it isn't as sweeping in its view of the Zombie Apocalypse.  The movie is in French, with English subtitles, so if you don't like subs, you won't enjoy the experience.  I don't mind them so I jumped right in.

The Plot: The plot revolves around a group of  4 police who decide to take justice into their own hands, in order to avenge a colleague/family member.  They go to take out a gang of thugs, who are hold up in a seedy apartment block in a Paris suburb. The gang consists of a couple of Nigerian brothers, a greasy Chekh, and some nameless French guys.  Well, things don't go well for the cops and they end up at the mercy of the bad guys.  This is all within the first 10 or so minutes of the movie!  Things really start to go down hill, as the returning dead show up, slowly at first, then en-masse.  After the initial zombie caused deaths, the two groups begrudgingly unite against the common enemy.  As they try to escape the building, they encounter more zombies, and what is probably one of the best characters I have ever seen in a zombie movie.  They meet up with a crusty old French guy with an axe.  He is a survivor of Dien Ben Phu, and slides into dementia every now and then thinking he's back in Indo-china.  It sounds weird; it works, though.  As the group tries to escape, there is conflict between everybody; the thugs vs cops, cops vs cops, thugs vs thugs, crusty old French dude and everyone.  Meanwhile the zombies are pressing forward.  They manage to find a cache of illegal weapons; which apparently are as common in France as Dunkin Donuts shops are in the N. Eastern US.  Not to ruin the plot, I'll leave it at the survivors make it out of the building.

The Good: There are some really good things about this movie.  First and foremost, French guys get ripped to shreds by zombies...just kidding mon ami!   As I said, the production values are pretty good.  It doesn't look like it was shot on video, or is coming right off the shelves of the SciFi channel (or whatever they are calling it nowadays).  99% of the special effects are real effects, not computer generated.  The zombies look good, and the deaths are not so gory that they are comical.  There are a couple of scenes that rank up with the best of them, too, IMO.  The first is when the group is on the roof of the building, and they come to the realization of what is going on.  The Paris skyline is back lit by fires; smoke rising in the night and punctuated by explosions.  The scene did a great job of giving a sense of wide spread chaos and destruction.  The other scene was an epic scene when the crusty old guy takes a stand in a narrow hallway against the advancing zombie horde; armed with a belt fed .30cal MG.  It's classic and exactly what ever zombie gamer wants to happen in their games.  There are a couple of heroic last stands that are done well, and one of the characters turns into a total bad-***, snapping not one, but two zombie's necks in H-2-H fighting.

The Bad: This movie is not without its foibles.  The first thing I didn't like was that the cinematography was really dark.  I mean to the point that some scenes were hard to see.  Admittedly, I watched it on a 19in CRT, streaming on my PC.  Still, it was dark; a couple of 100 watt bulbs couldn't have been included in the budget?  The second thing I didn't like was that there was a HUGE amount of cursing throughout the movie.  I'm not a prude; I spent 10 years in the Marine Corps.  I used to be able to curse with the best of them.  I also don't have a problem with the judicial use of vulgarity in movies.  Still, this was just gratuitous and did nothing to develop the characters or move the story along.  There are people that curse like that in real life, and I have found that they are, to a person, ignorant and boring; not the type I'd care about getting eaten by a zombie.  The last thing turned into more of an annoying distraction than being actually bad.  After the zombies showed up, every surface, in every scene, was smeared with blood, and I mean EVERY floor, wall, door, window, what not.  It got to the point that instead of paying attention to the action my mind would wander on to, "Geeze, where the heck did all that blood come from?"

Conclusion: In the end, the good outweighs the bad in this movie by a long shot.  The characters are not particularly deep.  They are engaging.  The plot moves along at a fast pace, with lots of zombie fighting going on.  While it's formulaic, as most zombie movies are,  there are some twists and turns that make it interesting.  It's much darker than most zombie movies in its view of human nature and the outcome of the zombie apocalypse.  There is not a complete sense of hopelessness, though.  Definitely not a movie for younger viewers to see; lots of violence and cursing.  
All in all, I thought it was a good movie; on a scale of 1-5, I'd give it a solid 4.5.  I  would recommend it to anyone who wants to get the zombie juices flowing.  There's a lot here to give you inspiration for your games, whether you do table top or RPG. 

P.S. - I forgot to mention the added bonus at the end of the movie - French Ganster Rap during the credits. Think of NWA meets Euro-trash house music; it's an experience that must be had to truly appreciate.

1 comment:

  1. Not seen this one yet but looking forward to it.


Follow by Email