Thursday, 5 August 2010

No.49 : The Horde

My totally legitimate and well subtitled copy of the French zombie thriller ‘La Horde’ gave the title in translation as ‘Legion of Evil’. That hardly fits a definitive article quest but given the UK release is ‘The Horde’ and that the subtitle for a man getting his face eaten was ”Gracious me!” I think we are on safe ground.

If you’ve seen pretty much any zombie film, you’ve see ‘The Horde’ - but this time it’s in French! The usual rules apply about only head shots killing and bites being infected but I’m happy with that - what if they introduced flying zombies? The purists would be apoplectic!

Some less well viewed reviewers have likened this film to ‘Rec’ but apart from it happening in a building with a monstrous twist I don’t really see it. The film opens with a piss poor police raid on a block of derelict flats. We’re not quite sure that they are cops as they are a bit quick to stab up the guards but basically they are on a raid. They get to the flat but the intervention of a trigger happy superintendant and training that must have come from the British Secret Service causes things to go tits up.

The bad guys quickly off a couple of the cops and are about to wipe them out when one of the dead gets up to eats a bit of face. As in all these films there is a caveat that none of the characters have never seen a zombie film or played ‘Resident Evil’ because no one shouts ‘Shite it’s a horde of zombies’ instead they all flap about saying ‘what’s going on’ in French.

Soon we are down to three cops and three bad guys and they then get sub divided into a two and a four. Of the two the sexy lady cop has a bitten colleague for company and he’s starting to turn. Luckily she’s handy with a gun and indeed a fridge. Meanwhile the foursome meet a wacky axe man resident who has a penchant for zombie tits and then split up when a long simmering dynamic in the bad guy hierarchy boils over.

As they try to escape the building the horde closes in and as numbers dwindle we have to wonder if they’ll do the tired old route of having the seemingly weakest character, the lady, being the sole survivor. Of course they do!

Despite its formulaic plot and set up there is a lot to like in ‘The Horde’ and I enjoyed it throughout. The zombie action doesn’t rear up until about a third of the way in but by then you’ve had time to invest a little in the characters before they get eaten. I liked the relatively slow build up with the chaos in the city beyond only seen fleetingly in reflections and the like. If this were a student film you’d suspect that this was a cost saving device but not here because the cast of ravenous thousands is soon revealed in all its blood splattered glory.

They do well to mix up the formula with some great fight scenes between characters and zombies with all manner of implements and household appliances roped in to help the carnage. It does help that this is the best tooled up apartment block in all of France with industrial machine guns and grenades lying about all over the place.

I’m not sure but I think there were a couple of bits of commentary about France’s colonial past and the subjugation of women but happily these soon passed for the next round of carnage. I’ve no idea of the body count apart from ‘huge’ and the methods of dispatch were fun, varied and totally uncensored. It is of course a tired old formula but ‘The Horde’ is definitely the best zombie film I’ve seen since the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake. OK I know that wasn’t that long ago but it had a dog being dangled amid zombies in it!

THE Tag Line : Horde, Gored, Not Bored 78%

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