The Horseman (2009)
Directed by Steven Kastrissios
It's been a while since I've seen a straight balls hurtin revenge movie. I still believe Chan-wook Park's Oldboy is the standard though Kill Bill puts out the ultraviolence pretty solidly as well. But that's the past.
Welcome to Australia's version of revenge.
And as the old adage goes, if you see one uber violent revenge movie this year....well let it be The Horseman.
Steven Kastrissio's The Horseman is a climax of alpha male Fight Club fists of fury meets a dish best served cold. The journey we take with Christian, our grief stricken father whose daughter was snuffed by a porn/snuff ring is suspenseful and filled with clashing of pure poetic violence.
Check your guns and katanas at the door. No need for that wimpy shit here. Christian uses a variety of elaborate torture weapons from knives, hammers and pliers to exact his blood fury. So what do we end up with?
A soon to be classic revenge movie that is no holds barred one of the best the genre has to offer.
An action-packed, multi-award winning Australian thriller, The Horseman features a range ofpowerhouse performances in an unflinching study of grief & retribution. Explore the dark fantasies we all dream up as Christian (Peter Marshall) grieves over the suspicious death of his teenage daughter.
As he travels through rural Australia to investigate, he picks up Alice (Caroline Marohasy), an awkward young runaway and an unlikely bond develops. But as the crime is pieced together, an ugly truth is revealed and Christian spirals down a dangerous path.
The Horseman plays out the revenge story pretty straightforward. Christian finds out his daughter is dead, gets a mysterious DVD of his little girl in a gritty porn film and then he goes all Nic Cage (ala 8MM). Soon he's hunting the porn distributor and all the actors involved in violating his daughter.
Nothing new here on the story. Even George C. Scott kicked some ass in Hardcore. But the difference here is Peter Marshall's performance as Christian. As with guilt and grief, his pain is played out through out the movie. It's pure raw emotion intertwined with flashbacks of his little girl when she was 5 years old.
The one gripe I had was we could have been given more back story of the relationship between himself and his runaway daughter. Why did she turn to drugs and become all streety? Character development would have brought us closer to Christian, though I was 70% pulling for his character to get his vengeance on. It would have been nice to get this to the high 90s.
As he goes through the list of targets, they all die horrific deaths. Here be your Gore-ipedia. We got knife neck trauma, sliced throats, penis trauma, sledgehammer pulverizing, blowtorch medievalness and nipple malice.
The one thing that separated The Horseman was the seemingly realistic fight scenes. Pure clumsy punches and kicks that are not Matrix staged. Mano y mano shit here. Dudes getting thrown into walls, using any weapon on hand to get an edge and pure punches to the face. Though its hard to believe our 44 year old father can kick the ass of villains half his age, he gets his ass kicked as much as they do.
Soon he picks up a hitchhiker Alice (Caroline Marohasy) who seems to be a runaway herself. They develop a father-daughter bond which gives him the opportunity to redeem what he's lost and potentially save what he couldn't save before.
This all ends in a climax of jaw dropping violence as Christian takes out the last remnants of the snuff ring. This of course is not without the tables being turned and the torturer being tortured. It's a tried and true formula in revenge films and The Horseman is uncensored in its portrayal. I'm not sure why I think it works but it does. I felt for the father, I got a happy when he put the smackdown on these scummy motherfuckers and I liked the redemption aspect.
Having seen this movie on quite a few Top 10 lists, I now know why. So I will give The Horseman a belated Honorable Mention for 2009. This is a revenge thriller that has wall to wall WTF moments . Guns don't kill people, a handy toolbox does.
Remember that famous Marsellus Wallace quote: "What now? Let me tell you what now. I'm a call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'm a get medieval on your ass"
Well you get to see a scene with pliers and a blowtorch. Nuff said.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The Horseman is available on DVD and BluRay (via Amazon.com and others). It's a pound your face awesome revenge movie. But don't take my word for it. Or do because you trust me. Hell if I know.
Check out the official site and Facebook page for more info-rama.
Check out the trailer below.