All of which makes the movie such a wonderful surprise. A gritty low-budget mix of some of the best bits from Mad Max, Outbreak and Night Of The Living Dead, it ticks all the boxes in a refreshingly snappy 84 minute runtime. We start off with Brian (Pine), his brother Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci) and their respective girlfriends Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Kate (Emily VanCamp) in a stolen Mercedes daubed with "Road Warrior" (that Max connection). They're traversing the freeways with the goal of reaching the boys' old holiday home, but outside their vehicle the rest of the world has effectively fallen apart. Pretty much everyone has succumbed to an unnamed virus whose victims die painfully slowly - and not pleasantly either. Given their experiences, they've elected to stick to three key rules: avoid the infected; disinfect everything; and if you're showing signs of infection, you're already dead.
Dangers on the route (from the infected and uninfected, the well and malintentioned) mean that there's little time for thought as our protagonists edge ever closer to their intended destination. Afterwards though, you ponder on the futility of their journey - even if they are to stay alive - and just how you might cope in similar circumstances. The resonance of deadly epidemic in a post-AIDS/SARS/H5N1 and H1N1-scare landscape is obvious, but like the best of its influences, the real subject matter here is people and their relationships. The movie succeeds in that age-old trick of pushing things to the very edge to find out just how thick blood and water really are.
None of this will be new to anyone who has seen any other post-apocalyptic disaster flick, zombie thriller or road movie, but Carriers succeeds by keeping things simple and never going over-the-top with either the acting or exposition. Best of all, it boasts a needfully nasty streak throughout. Hazy moral lines are successively crossed, but the truth of the dialogue and straightforward performances mean that every incident retains a hefty emotional punch.
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