Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – La Horde

My notes on La Horde (2009)Though it has that grim, relentless, grimy hard bastard tone of many recent French crime and horror films, this isn’t that much more substantial an addition to the ever-expanding zombie apocalypse sub-genre than the average Resident Evil sequel. At the graveside of a flic lately tortured to death by hoodlums, the dead man’s unit – including his girlfriend Aurore (Claude Perron), best mate Ouessem (Jean-Pierre Martins) and tagalong Tony (Antoine Oppenheim) — are persuaded by their hard man commander (Aurelien Recoing) to launch a revenge raid against the city-edge tower block where the cop-killer gang hole up. However, the cops botch their initial strike against brothers Ade (Eriq Ebouaney) and Bola (Doudou Masta) and Jimenez gets blasted – but the survivors of both factions are forced into an uneasy alliance when (of course) the dead rise as flesh-eating, infectious creatures. Most of the rest of the film is bloody zombie-killing inside the tower block, with only a few character touches. Comedy thug old bloke René (Yves Pignot) turns up alive, breaks out a machine gun and reminisces about the good old days in Dien Bien Phu as he guns down his former neighbours blithely. René bonds with Bola, who resents his take-charge brother, and cannily conniving gang-member Greco (Jo Prestia, the rapist from Irreversible) over the torment of a female zombie they strip naked and think about raping – which disgusts the more sensitive Ade; however, this moment of sobering empathy comes in the middle of a movie which otherwise gets off on zombie-slaughtering as much as any computer game franchise (Ouess gets up on a car with a machete and hacks away at the horde, slicing up dozens in bloody glee before he is taken down).

Aside from Ebouaney, who gives Ade depth without needing to do more than hint at a backstory, and Prestia, a rare human villain who is calculating enough to string along a sidekick because he senses he’ll need someone to eat when he goes zombie, no one here gets much to work with. Perron has the final girl role, though she’s a rotten person and a bad cop (and as responsible for her married lover’s death as his killers – she was nagging him by pretending to be pregnant); the cynical punchline overturns several of the racial, sexual and social attributes inherent in George Romero’s series as, after Aurore and Ade are the sole escapees from the building, she remembers why she came on this trip and shoots him in the brain. The zombies are no different from any other shambling horde, and the mechanics of their rising – supernatural or medical – are never even addressed; by now, characters in these films work out early that they are in a zombie apocalypse picture and just get on with it, which adds to the derivative, samey, we’ve-been-here-and-don’t-need-to-think-about-it-much effect of this particular late-comer to the party. Being miserable isn’t the same as being serious. Directed by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher; written by Yahan, Rocher, Arnaud Bordas and Stéphane Moïssakis, with input from ‘script consultant’ Nicolas Peufaillit.


One thought on “Film review – La Horde

  1. Gary McMahon I agree completely with that review, Kim. I watched a screener of this the other night (for my own review) and struggled to find anything really outstanding about it.

    Nigel Dungan I walked out of this at Frightfest last year. The camera didn’t sit still for a second and I really couldn’t tell what the hell was happened so I left.

    James DC Yes I totally agree with your reveiw Kim. I actually found the film maddeningly unoriginal and very tiresome. This movie inspired my cynical ‘Zombie Rant’ about the decrepitude of the zombie genre on Facebook a few weeks ago…

    Billy Houlston i loved it : ) chainsaw xxxxx

    Saw this at Fright Fest and absolutely loved it. Although it’s a slightly uneasy balance between bleakness and comedy, I found the characters to be more interesting than average. René was a caricature but played so gleefully that I enjoyed every moment of his screen time.

    I like the fact that the cause of the zombie horde is never explained. I’m tired of endless pseudo-science explanations just to get us to the same scenario. The vast number of people caught up in such a situation wouldn’t have a clue how it started either, so ignorance puts the audience on the same footing as the protagonists.

    Is it being released direct to disc here?

    Gav Hoare yep watched it at FF too, really enjoyable

    Anne Billson Anyone fancy trying out their French, voici ma critique de La horde – plutôt maladroite, mais c’est en français, putain, donc déjà pas mal: http://tout-ca.com/…/la-horde-avis-dune-experte-et-dun…/

    Mike Strick My French is a bit rusty, Anne but I enjoyed your review. Good call on the Assault on Precinct 13 reference. And I’m delighted to see that the phase “zombi-fest” has made its way into the French language!

    Kim Newman I know I’m being a bit grumpy about this. If it came my way as part of the monthly stack of schlock, it’d look a lot better than it did at a festival. I still think the zombie apocalypse genre has reached a point where films have to offer something more than the old ingredients rescrambled. Better yet, how about a moratorium on the sub-genre for a while? I think I’d have enjoyed La Horde more if it had been about, say, werewolves.

    Anne Billson Agree in principle, but wouldn’t werewolves be too expensive? I always assumed the boom in zombie movies was due to the make-up being so cheap and DIY. You can get hundreds of unpaid extras to turn up looking like zombies, but I’m not sure it would work if they tried to come as werewolves.

    Personally, I’d like to see a bunch of characters besieged by ghosts. You could do that on the cheap.

    Steve Kirkham Saw this at FrightFest also and hated it. Tiresome horrible characters spending the whole time shouting at each other.

    Phil Smith now, Les Revenants as werewolves…

    Chris Cooke Screened this at Mayhem in Nottingham and it went down really well – it’s nicely shot, well paced and brilliantly edited and the sound is great – but I agree ultimately about the genre – Colin was effective by being so small – but there are just so many… hang on… do i sound like Barry Norman asking for a pause during all those samey slasher movies of the 80’s… I now look back at those fondly…

    Steve Kirkham I know loads of people loved it at FrightFest – but both me and my compatriot where just not impressed. Just seemed to have no point and was just very loud and full of obnoxious people who deserved to die frankly. Having said that I didn’t really like Colin either :-)… As you say David it’s bad enough with all those British gangster movies…

    Brian Doyle @Steve I felt the same way about Cloverfield. It’s not a good thing when you’re rooting for the monster not because of it having depth and character (a la Karloff’s Frankenstein), but because you simply want these ghastly examples of humanity wiped out as fast as possible so they can roll the credits.

    Richard Harland Smith >>obnoxious people who deserved to die frankly


    Phil Smith dare MG suggest that the zombie apocalypses continue irrespective of the quality of the movies because they are about something that no one knows how else to express?

    Faith Clements i caught this at the the day of the undead in Leicester,on paper it works well cops invade gangs towerblock,and zombies besiege them,cops and hoods work together to survive kind of like the nest but with zombies and it should have worked well but it fell apart for me with the humour from the character toting the big machine gun,it doesnt really offer anything new or anything better than other zombie films or crime movies,its just another french horror film of which they do churn out some great movies but some dont hit the mark.

    Posted by kimnewman | November 29, 2018, 11:50 am

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