Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In short: The Horde (2016)

Warning: there’ll be spoilers, but that’s not really important in this case, trust me

Teacher Selina (Tiffany Brouwer) takes some students of her photography class on a nice little weekend trip to the backwoods. Things would be all set for some hot photography action, if not for the titular horde of mutant backwoods cannibals looking for “Meat” and “Breeders”. In a semi-surprising turn of event the cannibals are led by one of a trio of escaped convicts (Costas Mandylor) and are part of said convicts’ meth cooking project.

Fortunately for Selina, she has brought her boyfriend John Crenshaw (John Logan) on the trip, and John’s not only an ultra tough retired Navy SEAL but also the writer and one of the producers of this thing, so things are looking bad for rapey mutant backwoods cannibals.

Mixing backwoods slasher and direct-to-video action film isn’t an idea that’s been used all too often - if at all - so Logan and his director Jared Cohn certainly deserve some credit for that one. The gory bits aren’t too badly done either but the rest of the film isn’t terribly effective.

The main problem is that Logan’s action hero belongs to the Steven Seagal/Steve Austin (what is it with actors called Steven?) school of action movie protagonist, the sort of guy the film he is in worships so much, your typical literary Mary Sue looks like a loser and an incompetent in comparison. Consequently, our hero never feels to be in any danger from his or her foes, which does turn the action scenes into pretty one-sided massacres for most of the time. In fact, John dispatches most of the mutants so easily, I found myself rooting for the rapey mutant inbred cannibal meth cookers, because John began to feel a lot like the big kid in school bullying some poor losers. That he repeatedly murders guys who have surrendered or are out of the fight for good doesn’t exactly help to improve that particular impression. Turns out wholesale slaughter isn’t very fun when the hero is never in any danger and even pretty unpleasant when the film seems to think the guy doing the killing is awesome. Not that the bad guys aren’t horrible, evil, and so on, and so forth, but they’re so easily overcome they’re most of all pitiful.

Unlike in many a horror film of related sub-genres, the film doesn’t use its female characters for anything beyond being objects for the menfolk to fight over, instead of using the genre mix to go for some sort of tag team between macho killer – I mean “hero” -  and final girl. But then, that would be clever, perhaps even somewhat subversive and The Horde is anything but.

The film’s execution is okay. Logan makes a decent enough screen fighter, Cohn is a generally competent director, and the script is dumb but doesn’t care and at least never starts apologizing for its flaws. The word “watchable” comes to mind, but then, what isn’t?

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