The Horde (2010)

The Horde is an unpleasant movie; furious and bloody but bitter and mean-spirited. It has a ragged, pedestrian plot and is laughable in places. There is the occasional excellent moment and one character is initially hilarious fun, but it’s simply mismanaged and too ugly to like. Certainly watchable but ultimately flawed.

The idea behind The Horde is an interesting one; a group of disgruntled, crooked police officers are mid-way through a murderous raid on some tower-block dwelling gangsters when a zombie outbreak explodes in the city. These two embittered rivals must decide whether they can put their differences aside and work together to escape their lofty hell… or not, and just die.

The setting is a manky tower block (akin to District 13’s but less interesting) in the poorer part of Paris, occupied by low-lifes, druggies, nutcases and a gun-toting gang of psycho bastards. These particular gangsters have recently executed a police officer and consequentially infuriated his police buddies, who happen to also be absolute bastards. Revenge is a pill best served with knives and shotguns, apparently, and a four-strong group of bent cops creep into the tower block to exact murderous revenge on the gang of scumbags.

After stabbing a guard outside, they enter the tower block and head for the top, ready to splatter bad-guy brains. Sadly their unremarkable and unplanned plan goes horribly wrong and they find themselves captured by gangster Adewale (Eriq Ebouaney) and his twisted colleagues. But before the villains can execute them something unexpected happens – zombies attack! The two groups reluctantly decide to pool weapons and resources in an attempt to flee the tower block before it becomes the world’s tallest tomb.

Nothing is easy, though, and their journey is fraught with disloyalty, betrayal and dangerous, vengeance-fuelled motives. They’re joined by tower resident and total nut job Rene (Yves Pignot) who provides some comic relief, albeit of the disturbing kind, and they all fight towards freedom and the outside world… or what is left of it.

The Horde is not terrible – it has a number of decent moments and set-pieces – but it’s very scrappy and feels overly familiar. Crucially the major problem lies with the characters, which are all unlikeable – especially Aurore (Claude Perron) who is an over-acting grumpy bitch full of hate and horribly perky nipples.

Most will find “Rene the fat axe-wielding lunatic” faintly endearing at first but this loving feeling disappears quickly once he suggests raping a zombie before ripping her clothes off when they kill her; sick, unnecessary and needlessly disturbing.

Perhaps it’s a case of “too many cooks spoil the zombie broth” as The Horde is directed by two people (Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher) and written by five (including both directors!)! The direction is impressive in places considering it’s clearly made on a low-budget but the writing is utterly perfunctory and constantly aggressive; but in all the wrong ways…

Despite the scripting issues The Horde is furious, bloody and a lot of fun. It is nothing special or original but if you’re after a brutal blast of sprinting-zombies and bullet-blasting bastards then this is a perfectly reasonable option to choose.

Zombies can run; Danny Boyle decided this was acceptable and now film-makers have gleefully jumped onto this fast-paced bandwagon of the dead. Zack Snyder’s Dawn of The Dead remake concreted it and films like The Devil’s Playground and the Day of the Dead (2008) ensured they’re here to stay. The Horde is the first French offering in the speedy zombie genre and it feels vastly unnecessary – the zombies could’ve been the slow moving, traditional zombies and it would not have changed the film. It is a strange choice and results in some hilarious zombie running and head-twitching; making the undead seem like idiot meerkats having a spasm-attack rather than terrifying super zombies.

The above is just one of a number of issues, however, and although none of them are major there are so many niggles in The Horde that it is guaranteed to leave you unsatisfied at some point; the zombie outbreak is left completely unexplained, the make-up is perfunctory at best, some of the CGI moments are incredibly poor and no matter how many times they shoot the zombies no one aims for their damn heads! And the ending… if you want a satisfying ending, go elsewhere; the ending to The Horde is frustrating, disappointing and incredibly bitter.

The Horde is a furious quick-zombie blast of entertainment that is neither original nor innovative. It has some decent moments, but mostly it leaves a bad taste in your mouth that can’t be scrubbed away with all the bullets, zombies and perverted fat Frenchmen it can offer – Severely flawed, but certainly watchable.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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