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Monday, May 16, 2011

Movie Review: CARRIERS


Carriers is a 2009 dramatic thriller directed by David and Àlex Pastor that centers around a small group of people's fight to survive a viral epidemic in the United States. The story starts innocently enough, with four young co-eds on what appears to be a road trip. Brothers Brian (Chris Pine) and Danny Green (Lou Taylor Pucci) are accompanied by Brian's girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Danny's friend Kate (Emily VanCamp) on a trip to a place the brothers call "Turtle Beach." On the drive, however, they stumble across a broken-down SUV, with a father and his daughter asking for help. They see that the girl has an infection and attempt to drive away, but their own car breaks down. Reluctant, the group heads back to the father (Christopher Meloni) and daughter in order to commandeer their vehicle. After a short negotiation, Brian and Danny agree to quarantine the pair in the back of the SUV and take them to a high school where a cure has been said to have been found. As the group of survivors continues on their quest, they continue to meet roadblock after roadblock in their fight to survive this terrible disease.

I remember hearing about this film a couple of years ago when it garnered a short theatrical run. At the time, it looked rather fascinating, but I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cough up any dough to see it in theaters. Chris Pine was about to see his star-making turn in Star Trek a few months after this film was released, so I was content with waiting for that big-budget flick instead. After watching it today, however, I'm reconsidering my judgment from a couple years ago.

The real strength of this film is its screenplay, which is saying a lot considering it's a "horror" film. It's not necessarily a horror film in the vein of "you're going to get scared;" rather, it's the kind of film that presents a very realistic look at a horrendous atrocity that afflicts an entire nation (and maybe even the world - it's never explicitly stated how far-reaching the virus is). The best part of the screenplay is that we're never told exactly what the virus is. We learn its symptoms, but aside from that, it mostly remains a mystery. Now, some people will be wondering why I consider this the best part of the story. They'll think that we should be informed as to the reasons and the ramifications of every minute detail of this so-called virus that kills every person in its path. However, I think the lack of information that the audience receives leaves an aura of mystery about the goings-on in the film. We're given enough information to keep us from being confused, but it's as bare bones as it can get. And I absolutely loved that decision. Too often do films delve into a necessity to explain their every move (the most recent example of this for me was the 2007 film [Rec]), and often times, it's a little insulting to the audience's intelligence. Here, the directors - who also wrote the film - leave a lot to the imagination, and I applaud them for it. They essentially perform the concept of "showing" rather than "telling," so the screenplay receives a very strong grade from me.

The acting is also very good considering the genre. The more I see Pine in films, the more I think he's a better actor that I've really given him credit. Sure, he hasn't done much in terms of starring in films, but he's definitely going to be a Hollywood mainstay for a while if he keeps up the work he's doing now. I wasn't terribly impressed with Pucci's performance, but it's not bad enough for me to begin to condemn it. The girls (Perabo and VanCamp) are also decent, but it's not like they're wow-ing anyone with their roles. Meloni offers a good bit in a supporting role, and it was nice to see him away from the small screen for a moment. But this is really Pine's film, and it should be treated as such.

Overall, I thought that Carriers exceeded the expectations I had going into the flick. It received mixed to moderate reviews upon its release in 2009, so I will admit that I was a tad wary as the opening credits rolled. However, the subtlety and the quietness of this film make it a solid entry into the horror genre, and the filmmaker's ability to "show" rather than "tell" makes it a fantastic film in my eyes. I think it's definitely worth a viewing if you've got the time.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B
1.5 Thumbs Up

Addition to Awards
2009: Best Horror/Thriller nominee

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