The Horde Review
An endless stream of ferociously ravenous sprinting zombies, a bite-induced infection spreading faster than an STI through a group of alcopop-addled teenagers, a fractious group of angry misfits existing on the fringes of society, and a dilapidated tower block with a convenient maze of gloomy corridors, dangerous lift shafts, and dodgy lighting circuits. Recipe for a rip-roaring roller-coaster ride of rampaging zombie survival horror? Or yet another depressingly derivative zombie flick adding little to a saturated subgenre?
Akin to its zombified French cousin, the thoroughly enjoyable Mutants, The Horde traces a tested blueprint, adapting familiar plot devices and structure to generate what is in many ways a typical zombie movie. What separates this slice of infected hell from the shuffling, demented mass of its zombie flick counterparts is the strength of the characterisations; our incarcerated gaggle of miscreants – some legitimised by the law (cops), some on the wrong side of the law (drug dealing gangsters), and one completely apathetic to and alienated by the modern world (Yves Pignot, enjoying himself immensely in his crazed role) – shine out from the murky, filthy corners of the crumbling tower with vibrant and varied personalities. Yet the shining light emanating from these characters is seldom brilliant and clean; their glow is tinged and sullied. Nigerian brothers Adewale (in a frighteningly intense performance by Eriq Ebouaney) and Bola allow occasional fragmented glimpses into their troubled past, establishing a clear parallel between their current predicament and that of their tortured history.
As the knife-edge-balanced equilibrium of the tormented party teeters and tilts, the dividing line of allegiance between the formerly polarised groups begins to morph and evolve, and the resultant dynamics of the assembled throng makes for an intense and nerve-jangling journey. The slow descent of the group down the stairwells and lift shafts of the filthy building towards the starving, infected masses makes for a fascinating metaphorical demise into the very pits of hell, and the scenes of wave upon wave of thrashing, drooling, flesh-hungry infected is impressive stuff indeed.
Other visuals are particularly nutritious too. The early rooftop scenes, where explosions thunder ominously in the distance, and a nightmarish apocalyptic skyline appears in glorious comic book form as the characters are slowly framed in the picture, are eerily memorable. And the respectful nod to late seventies survival horror when the troubled captives desperately tune the TV to discover the scale of the crisis is both subtle and carefully placed.
The Horde could have been yet another pedestrian zombie vehicle, yet the directorial duo's approach of combining horror and full on gun-toting action alongside intriguing and ever-evolving team dynamics in their debut full feature means that this movie separates itself from many of its less engaging peers. It's certainly not perfect, and the wall to wall action – and richly dark humour - can mean that some of the depth suffers on occasions. Yet with a controversial, smart ending, and an imaginative and thoughtful approach that is abundantly apparent amongst the cream of French horror, The Horde is suitably distinct to mean that it should appear towards the upper end of your zombie flick wish-list.
Full credit must go to Momentum for this carefully presented release, as the picture quality is superb. As the opening scene emerges, the definition and detail captured during a close-up of a face appears almost as Blu-ray quality. The sharp and precise image continues throughout the film, with equally impressive levels of detail being captured during a variety of scenes, including the regular fast moving sequences and darker scenes.
Colour is rich throughout, with the copious vivid crimson being represented in full bloody gory glory. The darks are suitably solid, without being overbearing, and excellent definition is provided where the solid blacks meet with lighter shades.
The Horde looks fantastic in its presentation using the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and being a UK release, the disc is encoded for region 2.
There are trailers for The Crazies, Dead Cert, and The Bleeding.
The English subtitles are well sized and readable. The translation seems decent, and there are no grammatical or spelling errors. My French isn't great, but I did notice that 'merde' would sometimes be translated as 'Jesus', which I believe, from my schoolboy knowledge of French profanity, is incorrect.
The quality of audio here is commensurate with the rest of the release. The default option is French 5.1 surround, and this soundtrack proves a fitting aural backdrop to the considerable action on screen, with the dull thuds of the surrounding explosions rumbling through with satisfying depth and punch. Voices are consistently clear and well defined. There is also the option to watch the action with an English 5.1 soundtrack.
There is a healthy quotient of extras on this Momentum release.
First up is a Making of featurette, and running at a modest 20 minutes, it's a little better than many of the token offerings that are plastered onto modern releases. The piece lends us an interesting insight into the thoughts and motivations of the directors. Particularly revealing (but not especially surprising) is their expression of adulation for seventies horror, and their desire to make a film that was as much about the action as the horror.
Also rather fascinating is the discussion of the challenges that the crew had filming the piece outside the tower block, and coordinating the huge volume of extras required for the mass zombie sequences.
There are further comments from actors and others involved in the making of the piece.
The Deleted Scenes also rate higher than the average fare. There are four deleted scenes, though some of the sequences are altered scenes of what appears in the final film itself. They run for longer than the usual deleted scene style cuts.
A five minute section showcases some remarkably well illustrated full colour and black and white sketches used for storyboard purposes.
Finishing off the selection of extras is a trailer for the movie.
In many ways, it's yet another slice of zombie survival horror, but distinguishing itself from its paler competition, The Horde delivers a smart and stylish slab of zombie action, with an exploration of its characters and the dynamics that govern their morphing relationships. With a selection of credible extras and superb visual and audio reproduction, this Momentum Pictures release of the French shocker is well worth tracking down.
Last updated: 14/07/2018 04:20:16