At this point, are any of you still stupid enough to go off into the woods with a whole bunch of your fellow teens? Well, probably not, but if it’s for a school photography trip then you might consider it, right? Especially if your hot teacher’s going to be there – you know, the one who looks the same age as your classmates and whose casting is therefore fully arbitrary? Perhaps if her beefcake ex-SEALs boyfriend was going too, then you might feel a little safer, notwithstanding that the most competent characters who should survive tend to get killed in these kind of flicks (witness Jaws, Aliens, Jurassic Park or, if you go back that far, Dracula). Hell, if you were a cardboard cut-out of a stuck-up rich-kid preppy dickhead who’s established to need this credit not to fail the course, daddy’s millions or no, then you’d have to go even if you did suspect the woods hid a cannibal clan.
But what do you know, there’s a clan, alright. Who failed to see that coming? Certainly not the director, shlockmeister Jared Cohn (whose stellar filmography includes modern exploitation classics such as Underground Lizard People, Bikini Spring Break, and Jailbait). It’s unclear how seriously Paul Logan’s script was intended, but it’s very obvious how little seriousness Cohn treats it with, and that’s fine, because we’ve seen these stock characters and situations enough times that about the only way left to play them is for laughs. Frankly, I was more indifferent to the slasher scenes, which are more on the level of Wrong Turn than The Hills Have Eyes, than I was to the early comedic business. But The Horde is a magpie of a movie, not content just to tap into the rich seam of hillbilly horrors, but shifting gears with a torture scene right out of Wolf Creek, a wholly unexpected meth operation from Breaking Bad, and its final act from First Blood. Yes, that aforementioned SEAL escapes the death he was seemingly marked for, and goes all Rambo on the hillbilly bastards. It’s not too uncommon to mix horror with action (witness Jaws, Aliens, Jurassic Park or, if you go back…wait a minute!). It’s not too hard to see why as action and horror are pretty much mirror images. In horror, the villains are aggressors and the heroes are victims; in action, it’s just the opposite. The inbred hillbillies of this picture may be cannibals et cetera, but that’s a normal lifestyle from their perspective, and they’d certainly be terrified by being picked off one by one by a stronger, better-trained SEAL. In any case, the action part of the picture is handled with more aplomb than the only intermittently interesting horror part.
Still, for the most part it’s better fun than most of its low-budget relatives, and it does have fun with its horror tropes, including an utterly misleading high billing of Bill Moseley, who in fact plays a bit part. Moseley’s status as a horror legend is legit, but like other horror legends (Robert Englund, Doug Bradley, Ray Wise, Brad “Crazy Eyes” Dourif), he has little discrimination; seemingly his only criterion for appearing in a film is not even “Will they pay me?”, but “Will they have me?”. That’s a refreshing attitude for sure, but it’s routine to see him severely underused. I’ve seen The Devil’s Carnival, where he gets roughly one line, and that’s barely audible in a scene where everyone’s chattering. Still, he livens up any frame of any picture he appears in, so it’s all OK. It’s better than the utterly routine twist this picture ends on, as if to spoil the fun we’d all been having and remind us what sort of horror shlock we’re really watching.
The Horde is released today on VOD, will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!