In the last decade or so, Zombie films can be classified under the following headings: the good, the bad, and the-ever-so-fucking-terrible (the latter expresses my feelings toward the Resident Evil franchise – yes, I sat through them, painfully). The Horde has been on my list for quite a while so, to my surprise, when I saw it was finally available On Demand I put on my ‘jammy-jams,’ got a nice snuggly blanket, a sleeve of Oreos, and a beer – what? Anyway, I’m here from the film’s advertising firm to say that, officially, The Horde is neither bad nor ever-so-fucking-terrible; in fact, it’s good, quite good.
I suppose when one makes a Zombie film, it’s hard to market it as anything but. I’m not knocking the marketing for Horde as, after all, the fact that it’s a Zombie film is why it was on my list. I can’t help but think, during the opening 30 minutes or so, that directors Dahan and Rocher could have billed this film as a crime-drama or underworld saga. Honestly, the film’s opening is superbly urban, coke-fueled, ‘gangsta’ good times. The transition from crime-drama to Zombie horror nearly blew my Lucio Fulcian mind! Zombies? Well, christ, I guess so. Our first encounter with the walking dead is one of the most memorable Zombie introductions in recent memory; perhaps, and I know this may be sacrilegious, but I’ve not been that Zombie-Awed since the Zombie/shark action in Zombie 2. I don’t dare spoil it, but it, shall we say, ‘borrows’ an element from the RE franchise but does so correctly by adding a tinge of logic (yes, the word ‘logic’ can be used to describe a Zombie film).
Was I worried about a French Zombie film? Yes, I admit it. I couldn’t picture pencil-thin mustachio’d Zombies smoking slim cigarettes and discussing Descartes. Ahhhh, baguette! The one thing I’m still slightly cautious about while recommending The Horde? The digital effects. Now, 98% of the effects are out-jesus-stounding; half of head’s go missing within the blink of eye and they never conjure a chuckle or scoff, only shock and awe. Wait until you see a machete in action! The small-scale effects, as mentioned, are great. It’s the background effects, say, of the city skyline that are glaringly ‘false’ (not saying the shotgun beheadings are ‘real’). It only gets worse when the actors are foregrounded against the backdrop, as neither the foreground nor the background look connected. But, I’m bitching; it’s minute and occupies little of the film’s runtime.
There are so little outdoor shots, because Horde takes place entirely inside a condemned apartment complex in a timespan of less than 24 hours. Thus, the aforementioned small-scale effects, combined with the claustrophobic, tight quartered rooms and hallways, adds a sense of realism to the tale of the risen dead. With a runtime of slightly over 90 minutes, all within this one apartment building, the plot never drags, the relations between characters are always ambiguous at best, and there always seems to be an event of magnitude just around the corner (along with another Zombie). Notice I said the plot never drags, not the action, as there is – wait for it – an actual, fully developed story with real characters and lethal actors playing those characters. The action is oh-so-bloody good, and so too is the plot.
Most important, in my mind, is that once inside the world of The Horde there is no fucking around. In fact, there is a legal disclaimer before the credits giving the film an ‘NFA’ (no fucking around) rating. With the popularity of Shaun and Fido (not knocking, both are lovely), the Zombie genre of late seems to have slipped into ‘tip of the cap,’ ‘wink of the eye’ parody or slap-stick even. On the record, there is little that pisses me off more (maybe Ashton Kutcher). The Horde is real; it’s thunderously brash, it’s unrelenting; it’s clever; and it’s incredibly satisfying without ever taking the easy way out – AKA the Tinsel Town, insincere, bullshit, box-office-baby, clusterfuck (say that 10 times fast). I’m putting it on my ‘Zombie Shelf of Excellence’ as one of le meilleur Zombiers of the past decade. If you think different? “Don Edden Bodder.”
*The Official Site is in French with no option for English, which is ballsy, and I like it! So, here’s all you need to know: “An end of the world battle between gangsters, cops and zombies.” – IMDB