Carriers (2009)

I spend an unreasonable amount of time thinking about what I would do if I survived a global apocalypse. I suppose that’s ridiculous, since no matter the calamity – sea level rise, terrorism, biological attack, aliens – New York will most likely be the first to go. But even if I were hidden in the hills of western PA, mentally preparing for the zombie apocalypse is still more than a little silly. I’m okay with that.

I’ve compiled an incomplete list of things I will would do in the event our species suddenly came to an end:

  • Move into a fancy and easily fortified walk-up duplex.
  • Break into the Met, steal a suit of armor, and wear it at all times. Bite me now, zombie fiends!
  • Go to the Bronx zoo and train a rhino to carry my armored ass around.
  • Learn to skateboard. I never tried as a kid and at my age there is no way to do it with dignity unless the rest of the world is already dead.
  • Drive expensive cars off Chelsea piers.
  • Crash a boat into another boat. Watch them sink.
  • Make silver bullets in case of werewolves.
  • Steal shit.
  • Go crazy, set up cardboard cutouts in a video store and try to get one of them to date me.

So mostly stealing stuff and/or lighting it on fire. The protagonists in Carriers don’t do much of that, but for at least a while they have a pretty good time as civilization crumbles.

The story: What is this grainy fake home movie crap? Why do we care what these little kids are doing at the beach? Oh, I get it: we’re seeing the main characters, a pair of brothers, during happier times. Of course Chris Pine (Captain Kirk redux) is now supposed to be in his 20s and his little brother about eighteen, so why their home movies appear to be on 40-year-old film stock instead of VHS remains something of a mystery.

Despite this reference, no one walks around in football pads and leather chaps.

When we get to the real story we’re in a car where the two brothers and their ladies are cruising along a deserted highway, joking with one another, drinking warm beers and generally having a pretty cool little road trip. Their conversations and a bit of regrettable narration reveal that a global pandemic has decimated the planet’s population. Specifics are never given, but it seems from their surprise at coming across other survivors that the devastation is something approaching total extinction.

They’re headed toward the beach house of their youth (which, it seems, exists only in 8mm) where they intend to wait until the infection (or rather, every last person carrying it) dies out. Things do not go smoothly.

"Sally Draper, you've gotten blood all over your new mask. I honestly don't know what to do with you."

Biggest letdown: I understand that the focus here is on the unimaginable pressure created by a situation far beyond anything reasonable people would ever have cause to consider. (EXCEPT ME, I AM FUCKING READY.) But even so, it bothered me that the parameters of the contagion are never fully explained. It would be scarier to the viewer if the rules were clear, so that when one of them is broken you’d know to be worried. Prime example: they mention that the disease is airborne. So naturally, when one character comes within an inch of an infected man’s face as he expels his dying breath, it’s reasonable to assume exposure was probable if not certain. Yet none of the other characters are worried, presumably because they know he was never in any danger. WHY NOT? A little explanation would have gone a long way toward making the disease seem like an unstoppable force of nature rather than an all too conveniently malleable plot element.

A global pandemic is no match for a dust mask.

And I hate to be a spoiler so I can’t say anything more specific than this: the title is completely inapt. Look up the medical definition of a carrier and tell me a huge chunk of the script wasn’t cut before filming.

Why you should watch: I love seeing characters in an apocalypse having fun. Think about it: if you survive something that killed 99.9% of the world yet somehow spared you and three close friends, your life is pretty fucking good compared to everyone else. It’s refreshing to see characters appreciating that and taking joy in their small bits of good fortune, even though the rest of the world has gone to shit. And when the story starts from such an optimistic position, it makes the truly difficult choices they’ll face later even more gripping.

"Now we just need some rhinos."

I also love that the writer/director team doesn’t feel the need to inject extra drama by making one of the characters go apeshit for no damn reason. It’s a horrendously overused plot device: an isolated group of people is already struggling through more than enough external adversity when suddenly one of their own comes unglued at the worst possible moment. I’m not sure when the psychotic break wildcard was first played (The Abyss?) but I’m sure it was a novel twist. Now it’s just a cheap way to score extra anxiety points. There’s more than enough intrigue when even the most reasonable people are faced with the impossible. Thankfully, despite getting a little frayed at the edges, the characters in Carriers don’t artificially lose their shit and start killing one another will nilly.

No soliciting.

Memorable Moment: As with a lot of movies like this, the moments that will really stick with you happen too late to reveal here. But one image that struck me as particularly disturbing was the gang driving past a garbage truck stalled on a suburban street. As they pass it looks to have been left with a full load of trash inside but, on closer inspection, we see it’s actually overflowing with neatly stacked body bags.

Choice quote: “Sometimes choosing life is just choosing a more painful form of death.” Wait, was that political? Aw, shit.

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7 Responses to “Carriers (2009)”

  1. Bob McClure Says:

    I would watch your Rhino movie.

  2. […] Carriers – The open road, friends, beers, and a lethal, highly contagious virus. It doesn’t get any better than this. […]

  3. I would pick a giraffe…then I could hop out of the second floor of the duplex onto my mode of transportation … In case of an second emergency during the first emergency. I would also put a hazmat suit under the armor … Just to be safe. Sounds like a fun movie worth watching.

  4. […] Carriers – The open road, friends, beers, and a lethal, highly contagious virus. It doesn’t get any better than this. […]

  5. Searching I noticed your blog book-marked as: Carriers (2009) 31 Flavors of Terror. Now I am assuming you book-marked it yourself and wanted to ask if social bookmarking gets you a good deal of site visitors? I’ve been looking at doing some bookmarking for a few of my websites but wasn’t sure if it would generate any positive results. Appreciate it.

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