The Horde Review & Interview
The Horde is to be applauded. Applaud The Horde.
Pause for applause.
"Why is it to be applauded?!" I hear you cry, well, there are many reasons.
The film, very simply, is about a teacher and her high school? college? photography class taking a trip into the woods with her ex-navy, ass kicking fiancé.
On the way they meet Don "The Dragon" Wilson for a "what the what?!" cameo and get in trouble with a bar room full of rapey hillbillies. The muscle bound, martial artist fiancé (and screenwriter of the film, Paul Logan) dispatches said ruffian bumpkins with some sweet action moves and they head on to the picturesque woodland.
Once there they find out the woods aren't as serene or empty as they first appear and the camp is set upon by a marauding horde of mutants and criminals.
It's up to, the adequately action-named, John Crenshaw (Paul Logan) to go all Rambo Commando on their buttocks, armed only with his, handily packed, crossbow, complete with flaming arrows, save his girl and anyone else who might be left alive. If only his hippy dippy, arty farty lady had let him pack his pistol, yeah?!
If you had to pitch The Horde to your genre loving friends in a sentence then it would be "Rambo versus The Hills Have Eyes" or "John Matrix versus the Wrong Turn inbreds"
It's not unlike the early Josh Becker/Bruce Campbell/Sheldon Lettich collaborations of Stryker's War and Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except where the idea was "The Military vs The Manson Family"
Ever since Tarantino & Rodriguez's Grindhouse and The Room, unimaginative indie filmmakers have striven to either make some exploitation nonsense with no real effort behind it, that they then bleach out the color of and bathe in digital scratches and cigarette burns (as if this passes for filmmaking) or they achingly try to be so ironically hip and awful, praying that their film is either just good enough to become a cult midnight movie drinking-game or cheesy and bad enough that they find an audience of hipsters who will laugh AT the film rather than WITH it. These usually feature a pop star we all hated from the 80s (who now, inexplicably, has a rose tinted following) fighting a CGI lizard while out-dated references pass for quippy one liners.
Luckily and thankfully The Horde is not really either of these things. It feels like a film made by genre film fans for genre film fans. It skirts around the edges of being knowing, having cinematic frames of reference and certainly aiming to attract the midnight crowd but not only is it apparent, from the fight set pieces to the practical special effects, that a huge amount of dedicated work and craftsmanship has been put into making it but it's also having immense fun just being an entertaining, adult, tearaway, violent, gory romp.
When I first put the film on I had no idea what I was in for. I assumed it was going to be just another zombie film, probably because of the french film of the same name. In fact, the name of the movie could've been given a little rethink, not just because it is a familiar name of other films and a computer game but also because it doesn't sit completely right, for me, with what happens in the movie (but that's a small nitpick).
Initially the film was reminiscent of some of the later entries in the Friday 13th franchise. The early slasher kill sequence, the set up of the cliche youthful characters, the purposefully weak innuendoes about sex, the improbable excuse to go into the woods in the middle of nowhere, the forced dialogue etc. Have to admit, it had me a little cautious that this was going to be a difficult movie to get through. Remember, I had no idea what the film was about or what was about to happen. I also need to indicate that if you're an 80s horror fan, you'll be no stranger to this type of dialogue.
It wasn't till we got to the Don Wilson cameo, followed by the barroom brawl, and meatheads were taking flying kicks to the face that I sat up and thought, "wow, what was that, that was different. Ok then, I'm intrigued, let's see where this is going"
I am a huge 80s and 90s action fan and also a huge 80s horror fan and so what happened next appealed to me greatly, especially once the night-time rollercoaster of carnage and mayhem got underway.
The main cast of the kids and the teacher are a mixture of newcomers and up and comers. They all handle themselves fine. Two of them aren't given much to do but make out and talk about making out, but that's sort of to be expected, two of them have a little more to do as they seem on the brink of a relationship but are also a little more down to earth, nervous and normal teens.
Sydney Sweeney, whose part gets considerably more challenging as the film goes on, does well with the softer, sweeter dialogue in the earlier part of the film and her small scene with Tiffany Brouwer is a stand out before everything gets dark and nasty.
I am not sure if being affectively annoying and punchable is something to be praised but Thomas Ochoa, with the equally punchable character name of Riley St. Claire, is highly successful as the spoilt, rich daddy's boy who doesn't have a kind word to say about anyone and who can't stop gassing on about all his money. It's quite timely really as he is like a skinny, young, dark haired, effeminate Donald Trump.
Rounding out the main cast is our hero, the aforementioned, Paul Logan. He wrote the film, produced it, stars in it and did the fight choreography. That's very, very impressive and I doubt the man had much sleep. Doing multiple jobs like that on a lower budget movie means long days, short nights and not much sitting down. His fighting style is watchable and accomplished. I felt it could've been served better with a different shooting style and slightly better editing but it definitely got the point across and made for some entertaining rumbles. There were also a handful of hints and nods at the likes of Rambo and Commando which, I actually thought, weren't needed as the set up of the homage was already implied. They didn't hurt the film though and, I suppose, they give good WHOO HOO moments of recognition for the audience.
For those in the know, the supporting cast is a who's who of action and horror stalwarts that are having a wonderful time chewing the scenery and tearing up the screen.
There's the imposing and awesome Matthew Willig (Wild Card, We're The Millers), one of the hardest working men in horror, Bill Moseley (Everything from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Army of Darkness to The Devil's Rejects and Repo! The Genetic Opera), Costas Mandylor (known to most for his appearances in the Saw franchise but I love him in Fist of the North Star), the incredible and iconic Vernon Wells (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Commando) who I had the pleasure of interviewing about The Horde and his whole career and finally Nestor Serrano (Who has been in everything, but key movies and TV include Lethal Weapon 2, Bad Boys and 24).
This isn't just stunt casting either. Each of the above dive into the roles seriously and with relish, fleshing out the hellish and gruesome world our hero finds himself in.
Listen to our interview with Vernon Wells below.
The last thing to be said on The Horde, which I hinted at earlier, is just how refreshing it was to see an indie genre movie of this kind use real make-up effects, proper design, lighting and set dressing, great stunts, martial arts and so on. A lot of modern films lack that authenticity and it always makes a movie, in my view, when I can see strange, wonderful and creative ideas, designs and effects on the screen.
Stand out sequences to me were the bar-room take-down, the slow build, beautifully lit, vile, bloody and sadistically joyous Vernon Wells/The Butcher sequence and any moment that flaming arrows or flying kicks were being delivered to some mutants ugly face.
There is one weird, exploitation scene which has the intended effect of being difficult and disturbing but also featured a half man/half tree mutant. I wasn't sure if this was a sideways nod to The Evil Dead or just some mad, Troma induced, fever dream of the filmmakers but either way it wasn't something I was expecting in any way. The mix of mental, strange-as-bollocks, fantasy and standard-genre-action was certainly jarring, which means The Horde will definitely stick in the memory long after you've turned it off.
The movie has just about a little bit of everything. It is violent, gruesome, gory, disgusting, sexy, fun, enjoyable, weird, surreal and action packed. A B-Movie in every sense of the word. With a more dynamic director and a snappier, tighter edit this film could really be a new cult favourite. As it stands it is a valiant effort, with some highly enjoyable ideas and moments, practical effects and stunts galore. I'd watch a sequel.
Watch the trailer here:
Rent or Buy and watch the full film here: