Carriers (2009) Written and Directed by Alex and David Pastor
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In a post Apocalyptic world, two brothers and two girls try to make it to the beach where the brothers have good memories of summer vacations. This sounds like a standard horror movie plot, doesn't it? But this movie is not horror. It is drama with a capital D.
The world has ended as a result of a plague. Brothers Brian and Danny Green (Chris Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci) are among the survivors, despite the fact that Brian was part of the mass grave project. With them are Brian's girlfriend, Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Kate (Emily VanCamp) an extraneous survivor. Brian has some rules designed to keep them alive. Stay off the highways and other places people congregate. Don't come near the infected. (The virus is airborne.) Don't touch anything they touched within the past hour without disinfecting it. And if they are infected, they are already dead. Simple rules, but thus far, they have been effective. The four of them are alive.
Then, driving through the badlands, they come across a SUV blocking the road. They need gas. But while Daddy Frank (Chris Melloni) looks hale and hearty, his daughter Jody (Kiernan Shipka) is infected. In moving around the vehicle, their car is damaged. A few miles down the road, they are stranded, their oil pan busted. Now, they have fewer options.
They go back for the SUV, but Frank is not giving up. He finally gets them to agree to take him and his daughter to a city where he has heard there is a vaccine. They allow them to ride in the back, sealed in with duct tape and visqueen. As expected, there is no cure. What they find is worse. What they do is worse than that.
As I said, it is not horror. There are horrific moments, there are dead bodies, and horribly tense situations, and every person you meet is your potential death, not only from the possibility of infection, but because your death might somehow facilitate their survival. No, this is much more about how each character deals with this situation. Brian is a huge douche-bag who likes to drive fast, and booze it, and make very bad jokes at inappropriate times. This is his coping mechanism. He is also strong enough to make the hard decisions that keep them alive. Danny is used to growing up in his brother's protective shadow, and he rails more at the injustice and cruelty that is sometimes called for. He has not had to make the hard decisions, because Brian has done it for him. And while it makes him more human, it also makes him somewhat whiney.
Bobby, on the premise opposites attract, is just as head strong as Brian, but much kinder and tenderer hearted. These instincts will be useful in keeping civilization alive, but may not serve to keep her alive. And Kate, mysterious, quiet Kate. I would say Kate is the ultimate pragmatist; she wastes no energy on histrionics and has spine enough to face what must be done. She is no leader, but she is no sheep either.
These performances are what keep this very predictable film from slipping into the category of waste of time. There is no strong central message to the film; there is no strong motif of humor, like Zombieland, nor of horror, like Cabin Fever. There is no solid goal, like dryland in Waterworld, and no McGuffin to chase like the Book of Eli. But there is a clear cut mission, don't get infected, stay alive, and find a sustainable place to live, and there are some worthwhile studies of human behavior, and some fine performances, particularly Chris Pine's and Chris Melloni's. There are worse ways to kill 85 minutes. I don't know if you can call that an endorsement, but there you go.
This review, like Brian, is Lean-N-Mean at 658 words.