La Horde [The Horde] (2009)

(On Cable TV, October 2012) Zombie movies are a dime-a-dozen these days, but French horror film La Horde has a slight distinctive kick to it: It begins as a crime thriller, with a bunch of vengeful cops infiltrating a run-down high-rise.  As the first act begins, however, it tilts into horror mode as the zombie apocalypse descends upon Paris and forces the cops to make a very temporary alliance with the criminals they meant to hunt down.  The rest is progressively large-scale zombie-killing mayhem, shot in tight grim urban shots.  It’s meant to feel claustrophobic and generally succeeds as such.  The ho-hum beginning may not be particularly effective, but the second-act turn is effectively handled and by the end of the film we get a few good set-pieces.  (The best of which being a hopeless siege against “The Horde” from the top of a small car.)  Alas, La Horde doesn’t lead anywhere but to fan-service: The credits roll over a barely-satisfying conclusion that takes the easy way out rather than explore what happens afterward.  There’s nothing special about the characters or the dialogue (Out of consideration for people sleeping in the next room, I ended up reading the English subtitles rather than listening to the original French soundtrack –heresy!) but the direction is straightforward, as is the grimy cinematography.  Horror fans, especially zombie enthusiasts looking for their next fix, will get what they’re looking for from the grim La Horde.  On the other hand, skeptical viewers may not be converted to the virtues of the zombie film by this straight-gore, no-social-relevance derivative effort.

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