DVD REVIEW The Horde

Sacré bleurgh!

2009 * 18 * 93 mins * £15.99 * 20 September 2010
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Directors: Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher
Cast: Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins, Eriq Ebouaney, Aurelian Recoing, Yves Pignot

Recently, a terrifying experiment has been conducted on the other side of the channel: the rotting, putrid corpse of French horror cinema has been re-animated and allowed to roam the multiplexes. Largely kicked off by the surprise success of Haute Tension, films like Martyrs, À L’Intérieur and Frontières laugh at the watered-down rubbish that passes for modern US horror, thinking nothing of ripping open your brain case, tearing out your mind, and then doing a wee on it. And now, they’ve turned their attention to the zombie genre.

Sadly, the scenario isn’t all that original, with cops and robbers, sworn enemies, forced to work together to escape a Parisian tower block infested with the undead. It’s very much From Dusk Till Dawn meets [REC], although in terms of ideas, it’s inferior to both. If you’ve ever seen a zombie movie, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect here, and if you’ve seen quite a few, you’ll be able to pinpoint plot developments before they happen. And it’s not even remotely scary.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t really matter. The Horde is primarily interested in painting the walls red – it’s an action movie first, zombie movie second. You get hand-to-hand zombie combat, machine guns, grenades, and one of the greatest last-stand-against-thousands-of-zombies scenes we’ve ever witnessed. This is a movie inspired more by video games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising than George Romero, and that visceral energy – coupled with terrifyingly fast and powerful flesh-eaters – is just enough to make it feel fresh. Like most videogames, the dialogue is functional rather than flowery, although we do have to give it props for coining the phrase “dick garage”. Claude Perron is impressively cold as a kickass female flic, and Yves Pignot gleefully hogs the screen as Rene, the ageing, bigoted Frenchman you’d be ‘appy to say “au revoir, au revoir” to.

Vicious and gory, The Horde uses its banlieues setting to good effect, mixing crime, slime and grime with aplomb. Unlike its more cerebral gallic brethren however, it’s content to bypass the brains and go straight for the nuts.

Extras:

A Making Of, a short film, zombie concept art, storyboards and the teaser trailer. There’s also an Easter Egg of a scene being rehearsed.

Jon Hamblin