Director – Jonas Åkerlund
Cast – Dennis Quaid, Ziyi Zhang, Lou Taylor Pucci, Clifton Collins Jr., Barry Shabaka Henley, Patrick Fugit, Eric Balfour, Paul Dooley
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Horsemen is a flick that interested me when I first read about it due to its pseudo-religious element thrown in. I have always been a fan of horror films that throw in religion, and when you mix in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse you have my devout interest. Going into this flick I had some mediocre expectations, and while there are some fairly big faults with this film I did find it to be a mostly positive watch in the end.
Dennis Quaid(Pandorum, Legion) stars as Det. Aidan J. Breslin, an overworked detective still recovering from the death of his wife. Her death has caused a tarnished relationship with his two sons, and things become worse when he is assigned to the case of his life. After coming across what appears(yes, appears) to be a grueling murder, Det. Breslin is thrown into a murderous circle as he tracks down a group of horrendous killers aiming to be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a group that plans to bring hell on Earth.
I can honestly say that I have yet to view a horror film having to do with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and it added a unique touch to this film. Writer Dave Callaham(Doom, Tell Tale, The Expendables) took this idea and threw some very cool elements to go along with it, which in a sense made this film come off as a modern day Se7en, with a little of Saw. The religious element is not as heavy as other religious horror films, and while I did not have a huge problem it not hitting hard I do think if we had more of it(or possibly better execution) then the film would have fared a higher rating. If you are going to go with any idea, it must be pushed and executed to proper levels, in other words…take full advantage of it. While I did enjoy the overall plot, it was things like this that kept this film from being an excellent watch. We get some characters that really added nothing to the film, I guessed the twist halfway through, and the worst of all…the ending is a big letdown. Thankfully, the kills written in the film are quite incredible, with some very unique kill sequences involving some medical techniques, as well as “suspension”. Yeah, pretty darn creative if you ask me.
The biggest surprise in this film is Jonas Akerlund’s direction. His visuals are superb, and his camerawork is well done. In fact, earlier I said this film is a mash-up of Se7en and Saw, and in a way it is, with Se7en’s gritty tone and Saw’s editing. I personally did not like much of the edited quick-shots thrown into this flick, but that is a personal measure of mine, others may differ in opinion. We get a fair amount of gore thrown in as well, which went along very well with this film’s very sweet kill sequences. As far as performances go Dennis Quaid gives an excellent performance as Det. Breslin. Mr. Akerlund’s execution regarding Det. Breslin was good, although I really did not like how Ziyi Zhang(Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, House of Flying Daggers) portrayed Kristin Spitz. I found it a bit cheap and overly done, although I did like what her character DID in the film…that was awesome. I mentioned earlier that there could have been some better execution regarding the religious element, and that came at the hands of Akerlund doing an OK job but not a great job regarding its usage. We get a few pretty good shocks thrown in, but overall the devout “horror” element is a bit low, as this film lends itself more to the gory thriller(ala Se7en) variety.
Overall, this is a mostly positive watch that could have been much better but suffices to provide enough gore, tension, and story to keep the viewer engaged. Fans of Dennis Quaid should enjoy seeing him push the limits in this one, just be prepared for the very weak climax.