Carriers (Movie:2009)

The other night I watched “Carriers,” an under promoted (and modestly budgeted) apocalypse flick that I really enjoyed.

The main characters are 4 young white 18 to 20 somethings who are travelling across the Midwestern US after a plague has decimated the population. Stars include Chris Pine (the actor who played Captain Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek flick), Piper Perabo (who looks familiar but I don’t know from what — although IMDB tells me she was in ‘Coyote Ugly’) and some others. Chris Meloni (who was on a gajillion Law & Order episodes) plays a father who briefly crosses paths with the refugees.

The premise of the film is simple: the four are a cohesive group who are determined to survive and they all practice a hygiene discipline that they hope will allow them to make it to an abandoned resort on the shore where two of the group (an older and younger brother) spent summers growing up. They don’t stop for strangers (because strangers might have the un-named disease that seems to have killed 90 percent of the population) and don’t touch anything unless they scrub it with antibacterial wipes and bleach. A few chance encounters and lies, however, sow the seeds of distrust in the group and they begin to turn on one another. This is probably less bleak than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but it still does not qualify as a feel good flick (i.e.: spoiler: there is no cannibalism — although you are treated to the sight of a German Shepherd chewing on the corpse of his previous owner). Issues of trust, family, euthanasia and whether or not the principle characters tell lies to protect themselves are dealt with in a fairly deft fashion.

There are ‘flashback’ scenes to the lives of the brothers shot on Super 8mm film that I felt got a little bit heavy handed, but that would be among my only criticisms of the film which I felt told a very effective story in a minimalist manner. Although Chris Pine probably qualifies as a ‘big movie star’ after his role as Captain Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek film, there are no big special effects or other spectacles that seem to be ‘de rigeur‘ in sci-fi, horror or dystopian fantasy genre films (any of which would be a fitting category for a film like “Carriers.”). It is this ‘economy of visual means’ that actually made the film more interesting. One never sees hundreds of corpses or shuffling hordes of the infected — a few blood stained pillows on empty beds and stacked body bags that look like a snapshot of post-Katrina New Orleans tell the story.

“Carriers” apparently had only a small theatrical release and then went straight to DVD, which is too bad; I’d like to see Hollywood work a little harder with less and rely more on dialogue and events than star power and spectacle to bring people back to the movies. I definitely recommend this film; although it is obviously not for the squeamish or all audiences.

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