DECEMBER 14, 2009
In a move worthy of Lionsgate, Paramount oddly dumped their film Carriers into about a dozen cities (Los Angeles not even among them) in September, sans any sort of advertising or promotion. Even more puzzling, it stars Chris Pine, who carried the summer’s most satisfying (and one of its most financially successful) blockbuster Star Trek, itself a Paramount film. You’d think they would be able to recoup some of their dough just by having the “new” film with Hollywood’s newest overnight star, but they didn’t even try.
And now that I’ve watched it, I’m still unsure if they made the right call. On one hand, it does have a growing star and a scary premise that would pack in audiences (especially with its PG-13 rating), but on the other hand it’s an uneventful film, lacking a big climax or the usual sort of setpieces you see in virus movies (there is nothing here that equals the horror of say, the tunnel scene in The Stand). So in that respect, maybe it will work better at home, where its smaller approach to the traditional “last few survivors” story will fit a TV screen snugly.
At any rate, it’s a pretty good movie. As we learned from Trek, Pine is an engaging everyman actor, and the supporting cast includes the always welcome Piper Perabo (how come this woman never made it bigger?) and a couple of ringers like Chris Meloni. And there are JUST enough little mini scares to keep it from getting too sluggish; by design the film focuses on the characters instead of the action, but that doesn’t stop directors David and Alex Pastor from tossing in few brief moments, such as when Pine’s brother (Lou Pucci, from the equally discarded Horsemen) searches a car only to discover that the “dead” owner isn’t quite dead yet. And of course, one of the characters gets infected and hides it from the others, which leads to some tense moments (and a pretty harsh outcome).
I also enjoyed the occasional bits of levity, such as when Pine recklessly drives around on a golf kart for a while. Or, even more amusing at this particular moment in time, when they go to a driving range and the cute blond girl of the group says “Tiger Woods can kiss my ass!” after a particularly long drive. As they are younger, it makes sense that they would take a bit of enjoyment in being some of the only people left in the world, but I assume the film’s low budget prevents them from getting too crazy a la Zombieland (no deserted Hollywood or amusement park takeovers here).
Ultimately, the film is simply kind of sad, which is what sets it apart from some of the others. It’s not spoiling much to say that not everyone makes it, and even those that do realize that their life is fairly empty without those who have been lost. And Meloni’s final scene is particularly gut-wrenching; he knows he is about to be left for dead with his infected daughter, and tries to shield her from realizing what is going on as his eyes fill with despair.
The only real flaw of the film is the lack of curveballs. You can probably guess which of the group won’t make it, and the story is basically them going from point A to point B and encountering the expected obstacles (“bad” humans, a broken down car, a deserted rescue station, etc) along the way. We aren’t given much info about the virus; I don’t even think it’s made clear how long it’s been since it first began killing people. I don’t often care about such things, but here I think a little more rounding out of the story would have been helpful, as the journey itself, while far from bad, is a bit basic and thus these sort of things would have helped it carve out its own identity a bit. To be fair, I DID just see The Road which has a very similar premise and a bit more money behind it. It’s not fair to compare the films though; The Road is far more bleak and less adventurous than Carriers.
The disc has no extras, which doesn’t surprise me as I understand Paramount is the least courageous studio when it comes to potentially ruffling feathers (the film has been on the shelf for 2 years and has undergone some reshoots). They pulled Uncle Creepy’s commentary on F13 6 just for taking a few shots at the characters in the movie, so I can’t imagine they’d want a director’s commentary for their troubled and abandoned film, or a making of depicting scenes that were no longer in the final film. Still, I wish studios would have more balls about these matters; the only people that would give a shit probably already know that the film had production troubles; why not give yourself the opportunity to state your case? It can only help - it’s not like there’s a guy who thinks Paramount (or any other studio) is infallible and wonderful and will thus be crushed to discover that some of their execs tinkered with one of their films. Why not try to explain your side of things and maybe make angry fanboys (which I can certainly be at times) think twice about putting all the blame on you?
Or at least put the damn trailer on there.
What say you?