When the French do something well – wow – do they do it well.
Sex. Romance. Cheese. Wine. Film. Excess.
I saw “La Horde” for the second time tonight. What a great Zombie film. What a great film period.
La Horde is a bloody, over-the-top, gory, violent, atmospheric and visceral celebration of everything Zombie. It is set in Paris and starts off as an intriguing and high-octane crime drama before devolving into other-wordly madness. In a similar vein, so to speak, as “From Dusk Till Dawn“. Two films in one and both of them are riveting.
A French under-cover detective is brutally murdered and the rest of his crew track the drug gang that murdered their colleague down to an abandoned high-rise on the edge of Paris. They are not there on official Police business. They are not there with the knowledge of their superiors. They are there to get revenge pure and simple and will murder any and all in their way. They’ll have to. The high-rise apartments are sparsely populated by criminals and people too poor or too desperate to have moved out. Its the middle of the night.
So we have two heavily armed, aggressive and ruthless groups who are about to tear each other apart. The detectives are led by Jiminez (Aurélien Recoing), and have their own set of issues – especially flint-hard female cop Aurore (Claude Peron) who was having an affair with her murdered colleague. The gang – holed up in an apartment on one of the upper floors – is led by Nigerian Adewale (Eriq Ebouaney) and his volatile brother Bola (Doudou Masta).
The detectives track down the apartment that the gang is hiding in. They wait outside and prepare to smash and shot their way in. Its an understatement to say that things don’t go according to plan – not that there was much of a plan anyway. The two groups are at each others throats when their hostilities are interrupted by the sudden outbreak of the zombie virus. A captured informant who was shot by the volatile Bola in a fit of rage has reanimated in spectacular fashion, feeding on the first warm body to hand.
The informants inexplicable resurrection, insane violence and insatiable appetite has a salutatory effect on the warring parties.
Cops vs Robbers devolves into Humans vs Zombies.
They immediately band together and make a break for the ceiling. Its here that the extent of their problem becomes apparent. A horde of thousands of undead clamoring for brains at the base of of the high-rise, set against Paris in flames in the distance – the faint wailing of emergency sirens. An abandoned building full of post 28-days later hyper-zombies. Surrounded by a moat of the undead. Civilisation burning in the distance. “We’re really fucked” is the dialog that comes most to mind.
Despite the seemingly hopeless situation the newly formed group decides to take their chance in getting out of the building.
In the journey down and out of the building we get to see what humans are capable of doing to zombies and each other when times are extreme. It makes you think – “what would I do under these circumstances – how far would I go to ensure my own survival?”
There is a lot to like about La Horde. Its fast, its intense, its claustrophobic and atmospheric and it has some of the best set-pieces I’ve seen in any Zombie movie. I also think its fair to say that Aurore is a French Ellen Ripley (Aliens), without the pity. I could watch this for a third and fourth time. I’ll be seeking out several other French Zombie films on the strength of La Horde most notably Les Reveants, Le lac des morts vivants and Mutants. A wide variety to be sure.
9 out of 10