by | Dec 11th, 2009 | 12:00AM | Filed under: DVD Reviews

Carriers_2879 Undeservingly dumped into a handful of theaters seemingly in the middle of nowhere by Paramount a few months ago, Carriers deserves to find an afterlife on DVD — or, at the least, I think it does, for reasons I'll get into at greater length. Carriers starts with four friends speeding down the road in their car; it could be a perfectly normal road trip, with Brian (Chris Pine) and his girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) in the front and Brian's brother David (Lou Taylor Pucci) and his not-girlfriend Kate (Emily VanCamp) in the back. But they're driving a little fast, and the car's a Mercedes, and when they come across an SUV parked across the road, the fun-but-weird mood in the car gets very strange, very fast, because the driver (Christopher Meloni) seems fine but his daughter (Kiernan Shipka) has on a surgical mask spotted with blood and everybody seems to know what exact kind of bad news that means. …

And so we learn that the roads aren't just empty because it's the middle of nowhere; the roads are empty because almost everyone's dead. Some plague has hit, and our four friends are in the middle of it trying to get to the ocean to hole up in the hotel David and Brian used to stay at when they were boys — keeping off the interstate, avoiding anyone infected, and otherwise sticking to "The Rules" — when they say it, you can hear the capitals. The disease doesn't turn its victims into zombies or vampires or anything like in 28 Days Later or I Am Legend. It just kills you. No hope, no cure, no vaccine; you just die, and die slow, and die ugly. And that goes a long way in explaining why I like Carriers so much; it's got a low-fi, funky, down-to-the ground feel that writer-director duo Alex and David Pastor work with, and work well with, that makes it a lot more insidiously creepy — and a lot more plausible — than any crazy piece of pseudoscience a more expensive film might work up in order to rationalize big effects moments and over-the-top action sequences.

If you're even slightly germophobic, Carriers will make you squirm. The four wear masks and splash everything a sick person might have touched with oceans of bleach, but they're just playing for time, and they know it. (There's a moment where one character, sitting in the back of a car with a character who has the disease, watches the sick person's sweaty hand print on the vinyl of the seat slowly fade … as they, and we, know that just because you can't see something doesn't mean it can't kill you. It's a simple moment, but it's unendurable. …) Gas is tough to find. Radio stations are fading out. You have to scavenge for food. And hard choices make way for even harder ones.

And the actors, given simple roles and simpler aims — don't get sick and die — work well within the script and the story and the tone of the film. Pine's always had a mix of coolness and hot-headedness — it's why he makes such a good Kirk in Star Trek– and here he works the unlikable ends of that to nice effect. Perabo gets to do some nice stuff, too, playing a shift in the plot with intelligence and carefully-thought-out acting choices. I'm used to seeing Pucci in indie comedies and dramas, and that actually works here — he's a regular guy thrust into the apocalypse, and still dealing with his relationship with his brother. And VanCamp goes from shaken to steely as the consequences mount and things go from worse to even worse.

The Pastor's clearly didn't have a lot of money to work with, but what they have, they use well. There's also a nice bit of shifting in the film — the four aren't only endangered (they just want to live) but also dangerous (as they run into others, they could be … oh, see the title of the film). Carriers was praised by Stephen King (and quality aside, it's easy to see why — it could almost be a deleted scene from the early part of The Stand, after the dying's kicked in but before the supernatural crazy-stuff starts), and after finally seeing it on DVD (I was curious and hoping to catch it in theaters, frankly, but the closest house showing it was in Arizona. I live in L.A.; would have been a bit of a trip …) I found a horror thriller to not only like but respect — one with emotion over motion, ideas over effects, character over coincidence. Claustrophobic, carefully-crafted and truly creepy, Carriers is infectiously insidious, and a welcome change any horror fan can appreciate.

48 Responses to “Carriers

  1. kevin horan
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    this one really stinks up the place!

  2. Michael
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I really didn’t like this movie. Of course that could be because I was thinking of the book Carriers by Patrick Lynch–which was far more fascinating. I finished this movie thinking, “That’s it? I wasted my time on this?” Maybe the whole point was to convey the feeling of emptiness that the characters must have felt.

  3. ck
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    I thought it was fantastic. It wasn’t all in your face blood and guts and horror. It was a drama, about character and choices and consequences and what decisions you would make. It was thought provoking and I liked the pace. I liked that it wasn’t dumbed down or trumped up. I think people disappointed in it were expecting resident evil/28 days later/i am legend- and it is definitely not even trying to be like those. Agreed- if you don’t want to think or just want your typical ‘zombie jumps out at main character’ then go watch one of those movies again.

  4. Bobby
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Everybody dies…can’t get away from the germs…basically depressing…what’s the point of this movie? I really don’t get it. To me…terrible

  5. Michael
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 12:54 am

    It wasn’t dumbed down? There was nothing to think about in the first place! The basic plot was, we’re going to the beach and hopefully we don’t die, but if we do it’s okay because we’re doomed anyway. It may not have given you the destination or purpose at first, but by the time it’s revealed you even don’t care.

  6. Me
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 3:17 am

    Sucked bit time!!! Boring!

  7. LglEglElle
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Ugh low budget, no-name actors, and a vague storyline that dragged on and on. I couldnt even finish it
    Waste of time and $

  8. Duda
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I was expecting it to be a good movie, but it seemed pointless to me. Bad plot!

  9. serious
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 9:25 am

    please dont waste your $1.00 this movie is not worthy to see

  10. Jason
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I would save your dollar. What a true waste of your time. So many better things to do than to waste over an hour on this horrible movie. I Rate it a “D”

  11. K. Mann
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    ” Undeservingly dumped into a handful of theaters seemingly in the middle of nowhere by Paramount a few months ago”
    Not too hard to figure when Chris Pine was ALSO cast as Capt. Kirk in the Paramount property Star Trek, which came out about the same time.

  12. Teresa
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I thought it was a good movie, but I wish that they would have told us a little more about the virus. So we could have better understood what was going on. It just seems like they dropped us off in the middle and didn’t explain the begining or the end.

  13. Annoyed Viewer
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I really hated this movie, and not trying to be “maternal”, but why did they need to include children in this movie at all? It’s a huge emotional rollercoaster to watch this and I have never felt so upset about a movie before based on leaving the father and child behind to die. In other horror movies, the children die unintentionally, but in this one? Come on, go rent something much better – like 28 Days or something. Plus there was NO plot behind this whatsoever, just aimless wandering of everyone until they actually get to the destination, only to fade out to credits (!?)

  14. moviegoer123
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    This film seems like it has no plot whatsoever, I agree but at least my family can give this one a try.

  15. Ashley the man
    Posted on December 16, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Yeah don’t waste your time on this movie if you don’t have an appreciation for good movies and wonderful acting. I found this movie to have all the elements of an emotional and realistic drama. Chris Meloni’s performance alone as a father desperate to save his daughter is worth the dollar rental. Though not a perfect movie, it certainly deserves a viewing.

  16. nice
    Posted on December 17, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I’m not a fan of gory movies but this movie was a really nice surprise…Loved it!!!

  17. Aly
    Posted on December 17, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I kinda wish for some movie reviews there also was a reader POLL on if they liked the movie and recommend seeing it or if they hated it- This movie is a perfect example, because I kinda want to see it after reading the review, but the responses sound VERY mixed- Either loving or hating it.. I think I may like it, but it does sound depressing.. I would like to see how many people vote it as good vs bad..
    Is it worth MY dollar?

  18. Henry Esquivel
    Posted on December 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    How can I tell if the movie has spanish subtitles?

  19. moviegoer123
    Posted on December 17, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I have no clue Henry Esquivel. You can always go to Blockbuster, they have movies with Spanish subtitles but you should check with the Redbox first, in my opinion.

  20. C. Dunn
    Posted on December 21, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Sorry I have to agree with most, wasn’t worth the $1.00 at Red Box. Even my teenager thought it stunk!!

  21. kenjoa
    Posted on December 22, 2009 at 10:56 am

    My Husband and I thought it was GREAT!!!! Take it on a mature level…It could happen….

  22. Ken
    Posted on December 22, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Pretty pointless IMO. As noted by a previous reviewer, take Stephen King’s The Stand, subtract the supernatural parts, add one part of novelist Robert McNamara’s ambiance, and you have this movie. A lucid viewer can see EVERY part coming. No surprises, and an ending that screams *what do we do NOW*. The young blonde doesn’t seem to really have much to do with the story, she is just thrown in almost without much detail. All in all this is not a bad film, just not a good film. It’s probably worth your buck to say you’ve seen it.

  23. moviegoer123
    Posted on December 22, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    IMO, people should give this film a chance! We’ll see if I run to the Redbox to get this at rent it on the holiday weekend…or we might just run to the theatre!
    We’ll give this one a try.