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. kelly
    Posted on December 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Watched this one over the weekend and loved it. Refreshing to see a humanity-ending-disease scenario without the zombie element. Also notable is that the characters are complex in their reactions to their situation. They are not archetypal good guys riding around in post-apocalyptic America, but are — like you said — dangerous themselves.
    I recommend this movie! Plus it has both Duck AND Sally from Mad Men! :)

  2. b. jambard
    Posted on December 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

    sucked. I thought.

  3. M Felton
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I’d rate this one a C minus. Not very entertaining at all.

  4. MM
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I’d saw this yesterday and would gie it a B+. Definatley not a zombie, hig effects movie just a good movie with a decent storyline. Oh ‘storyline’ what is that – don’t see that much in horror movies…or anything else for that matter.

  5. Ryan J
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Didn’t like it at all. I just dragged on and on… Definitely got an F in my gradebook.

  6. TB
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Haven’t seen it yet, but based on the description given in this blog, it sounds like the first chapter of Stephen King’s The Stand. Minus the old lady and the creepy dude of course.

    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 2:03 pm


  8. phillip
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Not even worth the dollar at Redbox.

  9. Jendai
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I watched this movie over my weekend and thought it was really good. Although I love the Mad Max movies and 28 Days Later- this one has great characters. i re-watched I Am Legend last week and really am not into the computer generated stuff that much. Chris Pine’s character made him really believable as someone I would know more than someone made up. In all it was definitely worth the watching. I might buy it later.

  10. Nancy
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Watched this over the weekend and was surprised by how good it is. The story line is not at all contrived and the characters are underplayed, just the way I like them. Very interesting movie.

  11. Kelly G
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I loved this movie. I had to see this movie after I read that Stephen King recommended it. Some people are saying it’s a little slow, but that’s kind of nice and not a big “action thriller”. Characters and the situation are believable and not some “vampire-zombie” unreal movie. No special effects. It does remind me of the beginning of the Stand, and I really loved the Stand!

  12. Dale
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Very good movie, I would have went to the theater to see this if it had been advertised in Dallas. Definitely worth a rent.

  13. Reelthing
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I agree – sucked.

  14. Jim Van
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Awful! No wonder it went almost straight to DVD. It was like a bad “made for tv” movie.

  15. Marcela ayon
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I thought the movie was spectacular. it was not to scary but also creaps you out to the right point. I think that was or is going to stay with the people who saw it for a long time. if you haven’t seen it i suggest that you get to the nearest place where you can rent movies and get it.i give it two thumbs up.

  16. Barry Brandon
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Wow, much better then I thought it would be. Please do not listen to the naysayers who wanted something else. I think some folks expected the same ol same ol and were sad no one was tearing each others guts out. I love a good zombie movie, but this is not that.
    Well made movie, that should be seen.

  17. Funwheel
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I rented Carriers and Pandemic. Pandemic TRULY SUCKED but both my wife and I thought Carriers was pretty good! Made you think afterwards…”what would I have done with this situation or that situation (don’t want to spoil the plot) but maybe that’s why some people don’t like it. They don’t want to think!

  18. Darryck Shearer
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    this movie was fantastic. definitely a good psychological thriller. I’ll agree it was a little slow, but that’s what makes this movie so good. if the world was hit by a plague of sorts, this is what would happen. there wouldn’t be huge “action scenes” or conflict it would be as it is portrayed in this movie. so in saying that if you go into this movie expecting it to scare you or anything more, then no you’re probably not going to like it. its just a movie about 4 friends trying to do whatever they have to to live through a pandemic by following “The Rules.” it was very intriguing and definitely at the least worth renting.

  19. Betsy
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Very predictable. Not enough gore. would not recommend it.

  20. Jim Landers
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Watched it and was a little underwhelmed overall. But having said that, I did appreciate the actors’ ability to make the most of what little they were given to work with. Not a fan of special effects so there’s a point. But the screenplay was more bone than meat. I’d give it a C for the casting dirctor(s)though. A C means that I will watch it again sometime, but I will take a long vacation first.

  21. Dino 57
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I would like to see all reviews accompanied by the age of the reviewer. An adolescent does not rate a film in the same manner as an adult, and this is pertinent information when judging the credibility of the review. The phrase “It sucked” is a fair indicator of age, but not precise; the reviewer may simply suffer from an incurable vocabulary deficit.

  22. moviegoer123
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    This film Carriers seems good but all the reviews I kind of read, those people are right it’s a waste of time. Maybe, my family will rent this.

  23. Pete
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I think this movie was good.I would like to have seen zombies in it…kept on expecting one to jump out but thats just what I’m into.Still a pretty good movie.Rate it a B-.

  24. Jesse a. Garcia
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I enjoyed the movie and truly think it is a spin of reality on the same ole tired zombie movies. This, for one is a believable scenerio that we may one day be confronted with. How would we react? Good acting and not over played. Really reocommend it to fans not in it for “the gore” efect. That will not be our biggest problem when a situation of this nature comes upon us.

  25. Michelle Wingle
    Posted on December 15, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I thought this movie was very good. I loved that it was NOT about zombies and monsters. It definately had me creeped out. It was a scary movie more along the lines of “Signs” although I didn’t think it was as slow as “Signs.” I felt pretty tense through out the movie, which I enjoy. And it was definately thought provoking. Afterward my husband and I kept asking each other, “what would you do?” and “would you have done that?” I thought it was great and I would recomend it.