Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"The Horsemen" is a curious combination of horror, family drama, and false prophecy: Michael Bay tests small film?

Michael Bay experimented with producing in the small film world with the Canadian horror thriller-family drama, “The Horsemen”, directed by Jonas Akerlund, from Lionsgate, Platinum Dunes, and Mandate Pictures, and filmed mostly around Winnipeg (and in Chicago).

But the 90 minute film puts together some big ideas with some Saw-type horror (Lionsgate used its horror trademark rather than its ritornel). A widower detective Aidan Breslin (Dennis Quaid) takes on a case of serial murders that come to be connected to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That concept reminds us of “Seven” (or “Se7en”) or even “The Bone Collector” or “8-/12 mm”. But here the scale is smaller and works its way back to Breslin’s relationship with his two sons, the older of whom, Alex (Lou Taylor Pucci) is quite concerned about his emotional distance, even during his wife’s death from breast cancer.

You can predict where to go with this. Eventually the clues lead back to something in his own family, as well as a predicted Armageddon (it’s not 2012 yet). The most interesting clue involves an embedded computer chip leading to a rogue website that draws people into this cult of being horsemen. (We saw that sort of idea with “FearDotCom” and “Untraceable”). Part of the parallel story involves another (as we learn) troubled gay young man played by Patrick Fugit and his homophobic brother. What happens will not get a film like this into Reel Affirmations. Fugit, as nice as he is and looks, has to play these downer roles (remember “Wristcutters: A Love Story”?)

The climax of the film, involving Alex, is tragic (and graphic) enough, particularly for Lionsgate’s brand of horror. It comes as a warning: if you take away people’s lives by saying they’re not good enough, there are consequences (in the language of the film, uprisings of phamtom horsemen). But that sort of thinking sounds like the religious fanaticism from the otherside of the world that we have to fight now, in another setting. Christian fundamentalism can be as radical and dangerous as radical Islam.

There is a curious reference in the film to the Revelations quote “Come and See”. In 1989 (well before the debate on gays in the military would crank up), I happened to hear a sermon titled that at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel (Annapolis, MD) delivered by a female chaplain.

This trailer comes from “Support Platinum Dunes”.

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