Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins, Eriq Ebouaney, Aurélien Recoing
Directed by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher
Distributed by Momentum Pictures
To begin, I’m going to save you all a little time and come right out and say it: If you’re a fan of zombies and action flicks, then stop reading this, skip straight to the link at the bottom of the review and order this movie. Right now.
No, I don’t think you understood me. RIGHT NOW.
Okay now, with that out of the way, let’s have a little look at the 90 minutes of sheer awesome that is The Horde. Straight out of France from first-time directors Dahan and Rocher, The Horde (La horde) opens with the discovery of a bound and mutilated body lying in a landfill. Straight off the bat we learn that said body is Matthias Riovallan, an undercover cop murdered by the gangsters he was trailing. At the funeral his partners in crime fighting vow immediate bloody vengeance on the perpetrators.
Geared up with balaclavas and guns, cops Aurore, Ouessem, Jimenez and Tony storm the condemned high-rise where the gangsters have holed up. When their infiltration goes awry, they find themselves at the mercy of the gang, led by Nigerian-born Adewale (a fantastic Eriq Ebouaney). This proves to be the least of their worries, however, as the dead have chosen this particular evening to start coming back to life with a ravenous hunger for human flesh. Soon the building is being overrun with the shrieking undead, and the two groups are forced to make an uneasy alliance if they want to get out alive.
The quality of The Horde is stratospheric – absolutely through the fucking roof. Directors Dahan and Rocher obviously didn’t have a huge budget to work with, but you’d be hard pushed to tell. The sets, lighting, special effects (both practical and CGI), performances and cinematography are triple-A throughout with our duo behind the camera delivering the filmmaking chops of directors with three times their experience. The pacing is relentless and never lets up; every single sliver of fat is chopped away while still managing to get each plot point and necessary motivation across to the audience. Once the zombies appear and the bullets start flying, The Horde throws you head first onto a rollercoaster ride of bloody mayhem right up to the final frame.
Speaking of bullets, the amount of ammo that this movie throws around is incredible. This isn’t an homage to Romero or Fulci – the zombies here are sprinters; others incredibly strong, capable of snapping necks and chucking bodies around like ragdolls. It’s also refreshing to see that The Horde plays by its own rules – the dead returning to life is a solidly supernatural occurrence; no fucking around with viruses or faux science here! Being an action-horror flick through and through means that The Horde has absolutely no qualms in chucking the red stuff around with reckless abandon: Expect bloody squibs galore, shotgun-exploded heads, decapitations, some awesomely splashy zombie bites and corridors literally painted with crimson. It’s a gore and 80s-style action fan’s wet dream.
The closest comparison that could be made to The Horde comes not from the cinematic pool, but rather a video game: Valve’s popular blast-fest Left 4 Dead. It takes that same feeling of adrenaline-pumping chaos and translates it immaculately into film form. Many gamers have discussed how cool a Left 4 Dead movie would be, and well, it may not have the same title, but The Horde is it.
This DVD release from Momentum Pictures includes an excellent (albeit too short) 20-minute “making-of” featurette in which it becomes apparent that the mantra and word of choice on-set was “badass” – and that about perfectly sums up The Horde: Absolutely. Fucking. Badass.
Also on the disc we have a few deleted scenes which seem wisely excised in favour of keeping up the rapid-fire pacing alongside a storyboard gallery and theatrical trailer. Also of note is the inclusion of both the original French audio track and, for those amongst you who loathe subtitles, an English dubbed version. Of course, the original French track is the obvious choice for quality.
Visually The Horde will give your home cinema a run for its money. The transfer here is pristine, maintaining a rock-solid image despite the abundance of shadows and darkness in almost every frame of the film. If you’re watching it on a large-screen Plasma or LCD television, this could almost be used as a reference disc to check for handling of blacks and issues such as clouding or banding. The 5.1 sound mix is similarly excellent though lacks a slight bit of punch in the bass department, but only if you want to nit-pick.
- Making-of featurette
- Deleted scenes
5 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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