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DVD Review: The Horde
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Obi-Dan   |  
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The Horde
Directed by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher
Starring Jean-Pierre Martins, Claude Perron, Aurélien Recoing, Antoine Oppenheim, Eriq Ebouaney, Doudou Masta, Jo Prestia
Momentum Pictures Home Ent
Release date: September 20, 2010 (UK); December 21, 2010 DVD | (U.S.)

At the funeral of murdered French police officer Rivoallan, a group of his colleagues vow to get vengeance for their fallen friend. Their target is the Markudis, a notorious gang of Nigerians operating out of a condemned apartment block in a tough, long forgotten part of the city. Ouessem (Jean-Pierre Martins), Aurore (Claude Perron), Jimenez (Aurélien Recoing), and Tony (Antoine Oppenheim) storm their hideout which kickstarts a turn of events as their night goes from bad to the very worst.

As the fight begins and the gang takes the upper hand, the building is besieged by the undead. Now the surviving crims and cops must work together if they are to make their way to ground alive. The Markudis, lead by domineering Adewale (Eriq Ebouaney), his hot-headed brother Bola (Doudou Masta), and psycho scarface ‘carny’ Greco (Jo Prestia), helped by a number of disposable accomplices, are not to be trusted.

It’s true that there is nothing terribly original about the ‘we’re surrounded!’ attack by zombies and The Horde brings little in the way of originality and zero subtlety. But in a strange way I found this to work in its favour. No elaborate new zombie histories or theories are explained; the audience is given little-to-no information as to how or when this epidemic started. This means we are allowed to settle in to a simple, utterly horrific zombie attack that we all know and love! We are only given the information available to these guys, which makes it feel all the more claustrophobic. The little clues come from a fuzzy, almost indecipherable news report on a TV set explaining that the army has set up an evacuation route to a refuge camp. From the rooftop they look out onto the unnamed French city where they see explosions and fire, hear air raid sirens like they’re looking out on the blitz during WW2. And they see a horde of the undead storming their hideout.

Tough, recently pregnant, all-action bitch Aurore is ruthless in her decisions and efforts to keep herself and her unborn child alive. Ouessem is far more diplomatic, preferring, somewhat reluctantly, to work with the heavily armed Markudis who have superior knowledge of the building. After all, they each agree, if they stay together their chances of survival spring from ‘zero’ to ‘ever-so-slightly-better-than-zero’. I like them odds.

The blood is bountiful and the kills are plenty. Both counts hit the roof when the gang and the cops happen upon a crazy old man violently protecting his apartment and one particularly awesome scene where Ouessem shoots and slashes at the zombies from the roof of a car as they relentlessly clamour for him and he fights them like the goriest almighty Royal Rumble. The zombies become ravenous and have powerful super-un-human strength. They become like pro wrestlers, so drugged up the steroids are practically dribbling from their ears.

First time directors Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher add lots of speed and slow motion to the action scenes to make them hyper-real — in stark contrast to the high tension and drama at other times and make excellent use of their modest budget. They draw decent, mostly cheesy action style performances from the cast, full of angry stares and tough dialogue, but The Horde is all about the claustrophobic, ominous atmosphere which makes for a fun, enjoyable French zombie movie.

Extras:
Not much to report by way of extra features on the disc. A trailer of the film (which has to be one of the stupidest DVD extras on any disc), the movie’s storyboards, three deleted scenes, and a 20-minute behind the scenes ‘making of’, which sadly doesn’t amount to much more than the actors telling you how amazing everything to do with the film is and how exceptional their characters are, while the directors try to convince us that this movie is some kind of unique masterpiece.

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