a critiQal film review Carriers (2009)

  • DVD

Plot: Armed with a set of rules, bleach, flimsy face masks and a solitary gun, Brian (Pine), his girlfriend Bobby (Perabo), his brother Lou (Pucci) and Kate (VanCamp), flee to the ocean in order to avoid a deadly viral epidemic sweeping the country.

550 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 45s)

While the film came out with little fanfare in September of 2009 (and the DVD with even less in December of that year), Carriers interested me when I heard about it. With the recent emergence of star Chris Pine, and the resurgence of co-star Piper Parabo after her turn in another horror thriller, The Cave (2005), this viral disaster flick sounded like it was worth checking out. So, when it became available to watch instantly via NetFlix®, I figured I’d give it a shot. Would this new viral horror flick be worth seeing, or would it just be another in a long line of teen horror wannabes?

Chris Pine, who has recently made a name for himself after his star turn in Star Trek (2009) and a decent showing in Unstoppable (2004), is one of the four friends along for this crazy dash to the ocean in Carriers. Even more than his co-stars, he commands the screen, delivering a solid performance of a man who has to rely on a set of rules to survive not only the viral epidemic around him, but to keep his soul from shattering while he does what he has to do. While his actions occasionally make him seem coldly heartless, his face conveys his over-riding will to survive better than any dialogue could.

Piper, as Pine’s girlfriend, also delivers a solid performance, as do, to a lesser extent, Lou Taylor Pucci as Pine’s brother and Emily VanCamp as the fourth member of this quartet, but the film relies much more on Piper and Pine to carry it through, and they handle the burden without trouble.

Chris Meloni, of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (TV), also does a good job in the film, parlaying his TV character’s obvious soft spot for children into the role of a father trying his best to simply make his daughter’s final days as comfortable as possible, uncaring of the certain death he continuously exposes himself to. He still clings to the hope of curing her, and, despite how futile that hope may be, uses it as a crutch to get him through each difficult day.

As the viral epidemic has already spread throughout the country, the friends take the viewers on a tour of a broken countryside, delivering small thrills by staying in what used to be plush hotels and letting off steam by speeding around with golf carts and spending a day playing golf their way (where the goal is to break a window on the hotel with each golf ball). As these friends continue their odd trek across the wastelands the US has become, the viewer sense a bleakness to their quest. Will the ocean help them? Probably not, but that attainable goal seems to be the only thing that keeps them struggling to live in the disaster their world has become.

With some solid performances from the cast – notably Pine, Perabo and Meloni – a seemingly futile endeavor to escape a viral-infected world that seems so alien yet so eerily familiar, and the film’s ability to surprise the viewer despite what seems a foregone conclusion, Carriers is right on the heels of viral pandemic thrillers like I Am Legend (2007) and Resident Evil (2002), leaving films like 28 Days Later… (2003) (along with both it’s sequel 28 Weeks Later (2007) and the sadly inferior sequel Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)) far behind.

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