First, before anyone calls foul, I’m an educated zombie. Reading a few subtitles is not beyond my skill set. Don’t act all surprised. I manage to write these reviews, right? Good. Now… on to La Horde (The Horde).
The first few seconds of this film are striking. I’m not saying this to garner favor with our French counterparts. We’re dragged instantly into a world of extreme violence. That scene set a dark, disturbing tone and made it impossible to glance away from the screen. Forget trying to snack during The Horde. My finger sandwiches spoiled because I just couldn’t look away.
The movie puts us smack dab in the midst of a group of corrupt cops hell-bent on revenge. Their anger over the abduction of one of theirs carries the plot despite a noticeable lack of undead action for roughly the first twenty minutes as the cops track down the group of gangsters responsible. Our first taste of real blood and guts is startling, graphic, very real and not at the hands of a zombie. Few movies utilize the ungodly death rattle the dying make. It was music to my ears, or at least the one still attached.
A note on the zombies in The Horde; they are not Romero’s vision of shambling, decomposing corpses. These are freshly dead, revived only seconds after passing. Watch the resurrections, it is clear that an outside source is pulling the strings when we get the first good look at the transformation process. Even I was a tad creeped out. Undead marionettes with huge hungers and quick reflexes… I’m not a spring chicken. They’d beat me in a race for food.
Can zombies starve to death? I shudder to think so.
The characters in this film aren’t likable. At no point did I find myself pulled towards a particular person hoping they’d make it out alive. The cops are a family, but a highly dysfunctional one and the pair of brothers within the group of gangsters are ten times worse. Nevertheless, watching them band together in order to survive is still compelling in a very basic way. The need to escape a deadly situation is all consuming. Before my death I felt that driving need to make it out alive. After, well, it became all about the chase.
I will say, The Horde is a very bloody film. The language would make undead sailors blush. And there are a couple scenes that are really tense and flat-out wrong. My inner lust for gore was sated with this film. That’s saying a lot right there. I also picked up a new favorite kill, as demonstrated by the lone female in the band of survivors. She put that zombie on ice. (Bad pun, yes I know.)
My verdict? If you enjoy the grittier side of zombie flicks, pick up this movie. It feels real. The characters aren’t inaccessible because of some strange moral high ground. They were plucked out of a harsh gang-fueled reality and shoved into a situation where, for an unknown reason, the dead have been brought back and yet the most shocking violence is human against human. The living are worse than the undead. They are conscious of their decision to harm others and still do it. La Horde may not be suitable for everyone, but those it is aimed towards will love it.