Full disclosure: La Horde is a French film with subtitles (there’s probably a dub available, but that’s lame). That might be a hangup for some of you, but you should really give it a shot anyway because it’s a pretty damn good zombie flick and there’s something to be said for broadening your horizons. Remember: zombies are a big deal these days, so some of the good stuff is going to be coming in from overseas. Being finicky means you might miss out on some cool films (see also: [Rec]).
La Horde begins with four corrupt police officers attempting to avenge the death of their compatriot by attacking the Nigerian gangsters responsible for his death. The gangsters are setup in a dilapidated apartment building, which they use as a headquarters. Things don’t go well for the cops at all, and soon enough the survivors are at the mercy (or lack thereof) of the gangsters. Unfortunately for everyone involved, that’s when things go straight to hell.
Out of nowhere they’re besieged by an army of the walking (and running) dead. The cops and the gangsters, or at least those who survived their first brush with the zombies, will need to band together if they want to survive. The film milks a lot of tension from these two factions, and it works consistently throughout. I found my loyalties shifting a few times as La Horde continued, and I was way off on guessing who would survive to the end.
Unlike a lot of smaller zombie films on the market these days, La Horde doesn’t feel cheap and quickly thrown together. On the contrary, it looks good. Damn good. The pacing is quick, the action is gritty, the zombies look fantastic, and the cinematography is outstanding. The shootouts are great, but there are several sequences of hand-to-hand combat against the zombies that are too cool for words. I mean, fighting a zed with your bare hands is a bad idea, but it looks pretty cool on film. And then there’s this scene:
Unfortunately, La Horde isn’t without faults. The zombies are of the fast variety, and more than once appear to possess super-human strength. The characters, even after learning a headshot is the only way to dispatch them, continuously waste bullets shooting zombies in the chest. And speaking of bullets, guns in La Horde only seem to run dry when the plot calls for it.
They also manage to get access to some pretty exotic weaponry, including a machine gun and what looked like a WWII era MP40. They look cool and all, but are we really supposed to believe a slumlord in a condemned building is going to have that kind of firepower? In Paris?
There’s also a pretty nasty scene about halfway through in which two of the gangsters and another resident of the building – a slightly crazed Vietnam veteran – discuss raping a zombified woman. It’s pretty icky. I get that it’s supposed to show us just how debased and awful some of these characters are, and one of the more sympathetic characters is just as disgusted as the audience, but still. This scene could have been excised and La Horde would have been better for it.
But don’t let the subtitles and some of the movie’s faults put you off, La Horde, is worth checking out.