This might be something of a tasteless observation to make, but any director of movie made about a global pandemic must be thinking that the outbreak in Coronavirus has made them look like motherfucking prophets. Be it Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later eerily predicting a near deserted London or the step-by-step societal collapse depicted in Steven Soderbergh’s banally terrifying Contagion, anything featuring so much as a sniffle that threatens the world has suddenly gotten a golden ticket to be dug out and reprised with new eyes thanks to our shared experiences.
However, possibly one of the more accurate dystopia pictures to come down the pipe is a little seen film named Carriers, that gets so many details correct, you’ll wonder if the the directing team of Àlex and David Pastor have actually come from an alternate future where washing our hands for thirty seconds did sweet fuck all.
The incredibly infectious “World Ender Virus” may have a shitty name, but it certainly does what it says on the tin as most of the worldwide population has succumbed leaving a crumbled society to languish in a dystopian Hell. Through this world of deserted highways and ravaged cities are brothers Brian and Danny, who are joined by Brian’s girlfriend Bobby and Danny’s friend Kate and are hoping to get to Turtle Beach and hold out in the placed they loved going to when they were kids.
They have survived for this long due to a bunch of rules that the brash Brian has put in place, but those rules – not to mention their bond – are about to be put to the test when they come across Frank and his infected daughter Jodie who are trying to get to a nearby town where a vaccine is rumoured to exist and the two groups reluctantly agree to a truce due to mutual need.
As they travel on their way, they debate and discuss matters of faith and morals, never forgetting the little girl sitting in the quarantined back seat is a ticking, coughing biological timebomb, but when they get to their destination, things take an even a turn for the worse.
With one of their number secretly infected, the rapidly fracturing group have some painful decisions to make as the dystopia that’s enveloped the world finally begins to intrude on their tight knit group no matter how many deserted golf courses they choose to fuck around on. The specter of the virus poisons relationships just as well as it ravages bodies and even if anyone even makes to Turtle Beach alive, will it even have been worth it?
Pretty much forgotten since its release, Carriers has quite a few things going for it right from the word go, with the noticable of them being a main role for a pre-Captain Kirk Chris Pine and a supporting one for Emily Van Camp a couple of years before she landed Revenge. Elsewhere, it also has a role for Piper Parebo (aka. possibly the most 2000’s actress who ever lived) and one for Law & Order’s Christopher Meloni, with Evil Dead’s Lou Taylor Pucci rounding out things as younger brother Danny and all do a decent job with Pine noticeably going through the same type of jock douchebag roles Chris Evans also went through during that period of time.
The other noticable thing about Carriers is how many small, insidious details are instantly familiar, invoking the times when the entire planet ground to a halt. From the subtle details like everyone having face masks that they’ve personalised with cartoon mouths to the more harrowing details like a gang hunting down and killing an Asian man and stringing up his body with a slur-ridden sign claiming the virus originated from China, isolated moments are hauntingly familiar as loved ones are forced to die alone, unable to see their loved ones as the disease does a horrific number on their biology.
However, when we switch to the film itself, matters become a might more forgettable with the story tracking something a well worn path that takes in such familiar sights as not-quite-dead victims of the plague delivering jump scares as they slump in their cars and the inevitable thread of running into a bunch of survivalists who have undesirable designs on the female members of the group. On top of this, there’s also a brief stop with a doctor who has lost all hope and the tried and true cliche of the infected cast member who keeps shtum on the fact that they’ve become a literal danger to everyone around them.
It’s hardly damaging and Carriers moves swiftly enough thanks to a noticably brief running time, but it’s somewhat of a episodic, unfocused road trip that might have had more resonance if we’d seen more of our leads before the virus happened aside from the odd grainy photograph or camcorder footage. As a result, some of the more emotional moments sort of drift by while not being as effect as you’d hope with some of Brian’s harrowingly effective stories of being hired to bury “dead” bodies, or the truth about what happened to his and Danny’s parents somehow failing to be the emotional gut punches they were obviously intended to be.
However, this doesn’t stop the movie throwing out numerous themes such as fear and paranoia eroding ties between loved ones and the older brother taking on the shit of the world in order to shelter his younger, more idealistic sibling until the roles are reversed, but much like everything else, it proves to be interesting, but not as engrossing as you’d hope.
It’s a short and harmless enough watch, but it doesn’t really get you with the constant emotional low blows you’d expect from a movie that deals with a world stripped bare by an uncomfortably familiar virus and instead disperses from the memory much like 99% of all germs once they get a thorough scrub down with bleach. Still, it’s low-key paydirt for Chris Pine completists and dystopia enthusiasts (jeez, what a barrel of laughs those guys must be) and you could do a lot worse than a film that feels weirdly like the first act of Stephen King’s The Stand.
Not to be sneezed at.