Bullet Points: The Horseman
Revenge Week only comes along once a year so it was important to me to find a couple of films that fit the gimmick that are either entertaining as hell or unknown enough that it might make you seek them out. I think with The Horseman I’ve found a little of both. An Australian flick that was released in 2008, I only discovered The Horseman during one of my hours long searches on Netflix at 2 am. You know the ones; you’re scrolling through a seemingly endless list of movies that you’ve either seen (that movie where Mark Wahlberg is from Boston) or movies that you really hated (anything with Mark Wahlberg). So it was somewhere between the eleventh and fourteenth beer that I found this Steven Kastrissios film that hits hard in the dramatic sense but even harder in the revenge department. It was the best of both worlds.
Synopsis: Christian, a divorced father and white collar businessman grieves over the complicated death of his daughter. When a video arrives anonymously in the mail, featuring his daughter heavily intoxicated and mistreated, Christian sets out on a reckless journey to find answers. Fuelled by rage and sorrow, the death toll quickly rises as he uncovers an ugly truth. Along the way he meets Alice, a young runaway not unlike his daughter and a fragile friendship begins to unfold.
- Just the Beginning: In a move straight out of The Watchman graphic novel, or main character named Christian Forteski, strolls into a pornographers place and begins to mess the guy up with a crowbar. Believe it not, a small time maker of the porno isn’t the most likable guy so it’s a scene that forces the viewer into an immediate feeling of uncomfortable acceptance of seeing a dude gets his legs broken and then left to die while the building burns down around him. Apparently a short film of the opening scene had been made in order to raise funds for the film and it went on to win Best Independent Drama at the Queensland Filmmaker Awards in 2006.
- Please turn off your phones: One thing that jumped out to me early on in the film was just how quiet it was. There isn’t an overwhelming amount of music of score during the film and the camera sometimes seems to linger on characters longer than you would expect it to. What that brings to the table is hard to say, but I felt like sometimes you get to see the actors draw a little more emotion out of each scene than you normally would. Almost as if the director wanted to say “Cut” but didn’t because he felt like his actors were too “in the zone”.
- All the feels: The Horseman is far from a cheery film. In fact, it’s quite depressing. Even more so that I’m a new father and more empathetic to others like myself. I can’t walk through the mall without quietly scolding the scantily clad teenagers in my head so any story that has to do with a father having to identify the body of his dead daughter while hearing about all of the drugs and “fluids” in her system was made even harder to bear.
- The Innovator of Offense: Just like in the world of Professional Wrestling, the torture game is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to make a person suffer. It’s no surprise that the “torture porn” scene of movies like Hostel had a good run a few years ago and while The Horseman certainly doesn’t fit into that genre, it has one scene that like nothing I’ve seen before. Let’s just say it involves a dude’s dong and a bicycle pump. I’ll just leave the rest to your imagination.
- Tag Team: As the main protagonist moves from place to place, seeking answers about the death of his daughter, much of the story elements are discovered through the interaction between Christian and the young runaway girl named Alice that he picks up along the way. Those short five minutes stops that he keeps making are much less innocent than she might imagine but by the end of the film Alice herself is thrust into the unfolding story and Christian is forced to make an even greater effort to rid the Australian countryside of its filth. The fight scenes aren’t something that you’ll see in many conventional action movies. The main character isn’t unstoppable, doesn’t know kung fu, and hasn’t trained for ten years in order to seek revenge. He’s just a guy who was pushed too far and is willing to go to great lengths to get his vengeance. It’s the truest kind of revenge flick.
The Verdict: For months I was on this foreign film kick. Each week I would watch movies from all over the world and every Friday became the unofficial “Foreign Film Friday” on the site. I enjoyed checking out some of the latest and greatest movies that you wouldn’t normally see on a website that spends a considerable amount of time talking about Dolph Lundgren movies. In a way, I think it helped to keep my tastes from dropping to an even lower standard. You know, if you watch nothing but terrible movies you’re movie palate has the potential to drop to lows that it may never recover from. So it was somewhere between that Hairstyles of Jean Claude Van Damme article I wrote and probably one of my many pieces on Jessica Alba’s delicious body that I found this film and became a fan right away. Sadly, it is no longer a streaming option on Netflix but I would recommend to you that you seek it out via Amazon or steal it from a street vendor (don’t actually do that) because it is one of the better revenge films that you’ll see that doesn’t star Charles Bronson.