Short Reviews: Carriers (2009)


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 ‘It’s a beautiful day – and it shouldn’t be a beautiful day.’

Carriers is a deconstruction of the standard pandemic-and-survivalists genre, really focussing in on what life would be like in the wake of a viral pandemic.

Once the mayhem and hysteria has settled down, and survivors get used to living under new methods and rules to stay alive, what are the emotional tolls of life like?

Our band of survivors consists of Brian (Chris Pine), Bobby (Piper Perabo), Kate (Emily Van Camp) and Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci).

They’re mostly decent-if-bland people, except for Brian who’s a complete tool. And while this normally irritates me in movies, here it’s very much a plot point that he’s an unlikeable jerk.

They come across Frank (Christopher Meloni) who is trying to get his infected daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) to a hospital ward. The two parties end up travelling together, and trying to survive under a set of strict, pragmatic and utilitarian rules to guarantee their safety.

The major point of the movie is “when you have to live like this to survive, is it worth living” and rather than it being a clunky message drilled home, it’s something that’s considered from a few different points of view.

Performances are good, although Pine and Perabo tend to overplay a bit, and the story lags in some sections, but despite these minor flaws, it’s a well-put together movie. It’s entirely common for movies dealing with an apocalypse to be bleak, but this one is despairingly so, and plays it well. The conclusion of the film is almost hopeless, but it’s what the movie has been building towards and so it sits right.

It was shelved by the studio for a few years and I believe only went to DVD (I don’t recall a cinema release, and certainly not an Australian one) which is strange to me as it’s pretty decent as a film. The subject matter is nothing new, but it is a new approach – rather than being “run from the zombies” the film is much more about the quality of life under such circumstances, and so I can only assume that the calmer, more cerebral tone of the movie meant the studio thought it would fail in the wake of 28 Dawns of the Resident Diaries of the Dead.

I suspect the other problem is that it’s hard to classify. It’s not strictly a horror movie, but not really a thriller or an action movie either. It’s a bit of all three, but in that way where, from a studio’s perspective, there’s no set genre to market it towards (though they clearly chose horror.

It’s a shame, because it deserves an audience – it’s contemplative without being dull or (too) obvious, and even for those who don’t particularly love the horror genre, it’s a palatable movie that’s worth a look.

Trailer below has some spoilers, and also misrepresents this as a zombie movie. It’s not.

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