- Title: The Horde (fr. La Horde)
- Year: 2009
- Rating: R
- Running Time: 96 mins
- Director: Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher
- Writer(s): Arnaud Bordas, Yannick Dahan, Stéphane Moïssakis, Benjamin Rocher
- Cast: Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins, Eriq Ebouaney, Aurélien Recoing, Doudou Masta, Antoine Oppenheim, Jo Prestia, Yves Pignot, Adam Pengsawang, Sébastien Peres, Laurent Demianoff, Alain Figlarz
French zombie flick The Horde does not set about reinventing the wheel with its simple tale of crooked cops teaming up with vicious drug dealers to survive a zombie onslaught. Instead it delivers top-notch action and violence in the pressure-cooker of a world overrun with a horde of undead, and manages too to achieve that oh-so-necessary balance between threats external and internal that is the hallmark of any zombie film.
The Horde starts with a group of cops hell-bent on revenge for one of their murdered comrades. Their plan is to break into the dilapidated apartment building where the gang responsible for the murder makes their HQ and kill every last one of them. But things go dramatically wrong as the cops’ plans are foiled and they fall into the hands of their enemies — and then the dead start coming back to life. Cops and killers team up to escape the building while the world goes to shit around them.
That’s all the plot you need, and really about all there is to The Horde. What elevates the film above the simple premise, however, is how well the thematic elements of violence and loyalty are manifested through some great characters. Like any truly good zombie film, The Horde remembers that the number one enemy is us. The fragile alliance between cops and criminals isn’t the only bond in danger of breaking, and the shifting dynamic of loyalties and antagonisms keeps the viewer guessing until the end. Fundamentally it is motivation and essence of character that matters most, and each of the main players receives an apotheosis befitting their role — the warrior dies in a blaze of glory, the weak man becomes a betrayer, the hero gives his life, and the killer becomes a monster.
The Horde is also a commentary on violence, and those who live with it and celebrate it. It’s a smart slant on the zombie phenomenon that I haven’t seen before, and is tremendously appropriate for a sub-genre that revels in the idea of anarchic and unrestrained violence against other human beings (albeit dead ones). Black humor juxtaposed with stark brutality make the point well, and with far more subtlety than the ham-fisted allegories of films like Land of the Dead. In the end The Horde delivers fast, bloody action and great characters, and is one of the best zombie films of recent years.