out of Five
Running time: 84
Impressively directed and sharply written, this is an enjoyably dark, emotionally engaging and frequently gripping thriller with strong performances from Pine, Pucci and Perabo.
What's it all about?
Directed by Spanish brothers Alex and David Pastor, Carriers is set in present day America and stars Chris Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci as brothers Brian and Danny, two survivors of a deadly plague that has wiped out most of America. Together with Brian's girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Danny's friend Kate (Emily VanCamp), they're driving across America, hoping to find somewhere safe to live until the pandemic blows over or the infected all die out.
Chris Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci are great as the two brothers and their bickering interactions are both sparky and believable. Piper Perabo is equally good and brings a kind-hearted warmth to her role as Bobby, though Emily VanCamp's character feels a little underwritten by comparison.
There's also strong support from Christopher Meloni and Kiernan Shipka (aka Mad Men's Sally Draper) as Frank and Jodie, a father and his infected daughter, who persuade the survivors to help them reach a makeshift hospital rumoured to have found a cure. In addition, the film is impressively shot, courtesy of Benoit Debie's sun-drenched cinematography.
Carriers has a lot in common with the upcoming post-apocalyptic drama The Road, in that both films share an uncompromising bleakness and a faith in the remaining spark of humanity, despite the horrors perpetrated by their fellow survivors. It's also very similar to Zombieland, only without the zombies; it's actually refreshing to realise that the Pastor brothers had enough confidence in their material to resist the lure of mutated creatures going “Grrr, arrrgh.”
The Pastors orchestrate several wonderfully suspenseful sequences, including a scene set in the makeshift hospital that is extremely dark and genuinely horrifying. Similarly, the script cleverly explores the devastating emotional consequences of infection, whilst highlighting the uncomfortable fact that kind-hearted, sentimental decisions are spectacularly misguided when it comes to viral apocalypse movies. (Pleasingly, the film lends itself to all manner of metaphor-based post-film pub discussions, from Fear of Swine Flu the importance of honesty in relationships.)
Carriers is an enjoyably dark, emotionally gripping thriller with superb direction and strong performances. Highly recommended.