Alex & David Pastor’s 2009 Carriers17 Apr 2020
Everyone talks about what they would do when faced with uncertain death angerufen - us versus whatever the threat may be - survival at all costs. But until you walk a mile in those shoes you really can’t say; you really don’t know…. and you really can’t identify your true self or what your true capabilities are.
….Or what you would do to survive. Directors Alex & David Pastor’s 2009 movie Carriers starts out medias in res by introducing us to Brian and Danny, (played respectively by Chris Pine of Star Trek, and Lou Taylor Pucci of Empire Falls) two brothers trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy by making their own fun in a world that has become deceivingly ugly. It seems easy enough as they drive across country to the ocean, the one place that always brought them peace and happiness. Along for the ride is Brian’s girlfriend Bobby (played by Coyote Ugly’s Piper Perabo) and Kate (Emily VanCamp of The Ring 2.) Bad jokes and warm beer help to make their journey a seemingly pleasant one.
You don’t really find out that the world had turned ugly until about 15 minutes in when the group runs across Frank (Christopher Meloni of Law & Order) who is stranded and in need of gas in the middle of nowhere. With him is his young daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) who hides rather shyly in their stalled SUV. What seems like a simple good deed suddenly turns evil when Bobby notices the daughter has “caught it.” “It” being a highly contagious and incurable viral disease of unknown origin that has quickly manifested throughout the United States and wiped out most of civilization. How the virus came to be is never addressed but the movie flows in a manner that you really don’t think about it much.
Caught in the internal struggle between wanting to do what is right and the desire for survival, survival quickly wins out as our group leaves the desperate father with his dying daughter, stranded and alone. Needless to say their “pleasant” ride turns angry and tense and a cruel twist of fate soon brings the foursome back to the stranded father and child where they realize they must join forces to exist or become yet another viral casualty.
Focusing on evil more lethal than a Jigsaw Cocktail but without the blood and gore, Carriers creatively illustrates how fragile the bonds of family, love, and friendship really are when forced to stare into the desolate eyes of death. How humanity becomes inhumane, skepticism replaces Christianity, and the last person standing loses sight of what is right and wrong, fighting instead for survival but not realizing that in doing so, they are condemning themselves to a life of solitude. And sometimes, that would be worse.
Carriers was originally filmed in 2007 but not released until 2009. Apparently Paramount was in a quandary due to the movies PG13 rating, concerned if anyone would take it seriously as a horror film. Granted there is no vulgarity, dismemberment, gratuitous boob shots, or even zombies (the bastards) but Carriers is most certainly a horror film. Not in the Saw sense, but in the 28 Days Later sense (ironically many have written of similarities between the two films.) In the sense that real horror lies at the core of our existence.
The actors are certainly a big part in the effectiveness of Carriers. Christopher Meloni was especially convincing in his role as a father who would do anything to save the life of his child, and the honesty in his delivery was incredibly believable. Chris Pine and Piper Perabo were equally impressive in evoking raw emotion , and I found myself feeling their pain and internal torture as if it were happening to me. I don’t know about you but in my book, that is what makes a good movie great.
Don’t quote me on any of this though as I seem to be in the minority of fans for this movie. Generally speaking, most reviewers feel Carriers was lacking of any real depth. While I strongly disagree, I would be curious to hear what you think. Am I alone or did you love it too?