Movie Review: ‘Carriers’

By Matthew Rodgers
Matthew Rodgers
Matthew Rodgers
December 12, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

 (Paramount)
(Paramount)
Dusted off and given a cinema release following the success of a post-Trek Chris Pine, this grimy little entry into that crowded sub-genre of virus outbreaks and zombiefied beings is at times as infectious as a case of cooties, but equally as irritating.

Pre-dating many of the ideas riffed on by the recent Zombieland, Carriers takes place in a world already decimated by an unspecified disease. The only indicators are the manifestation of bloody patches on the body or the more obvious coughing up of guts. Nice.

Traversing this increasingly desolate landscape are four survivors. Two brothers, Danny and Brian (Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci), and their respective other halves, Bobby and Kate (Piper Perabo and Emily VanCamp). All are paranoid, all are diverse characters ripe for clashes and confrontations, and all are desperate in their attempts to stay alive.

Already done a hundred times better in the likes of 28 Days Later and the forthcoming classic-in-waiting The Road, there are still some things to admire in this stylish little offering.

Intentional or not, the stunted ambition actually aids the storytelling. Instead of aiming for cheap scares and excessive gore, the shock factor is kept to a minimum. The odd man-eating dog or shuffling corpse are about as R-rated as it gets. The key tension comes from what goes on off-screen: the absence of the cause of the pandemic is quite unsettling and the abandonment of an infected child is particularly cruel. Add to that the odd anxiety-wracked set-piece – something as simple as our “hero” dangling over a swimming pool containing infected corpses – and you have an effective, albeit should-be-straight-to-DVD thriller.

The cast are uniformly unlikeable, which is a massive problem. Even those that survive to the end credits wouldn’t have been missed had they kicked the bucket. Pine displays all the arrogance that landed him the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, but he never develops beyond a smug jock. Perabo complements the bleached visuals with her wistful looks and a hairstyle that’s too kempt for a ravaged dystopia, but once again suffers at the hand of the scriptwriter.

Although only intermittently satisfying, Carriers isn’t a film that should be avoided like the plague. It’s more like a common cold: you suffer it, you derive some slight pleasure from the time off work, but ultimately you become bored and you’re glad to be shot of it once it’s over.