La Horde (2009) -****Spoiler Alert**** A revenge plot gone bad leave a group of cops and a gang of thugs trapped in a dilapidated apartment building in France with a horde of zombies trying to get in and more already roaming around. Can they put aside their hatred and distrust and work together to get out of the building.
The film starts at the funeral of a fallen cop and the promise to his widow that the remaining team members will get revenge for his death. They meet four cops Aurore (Claude Perron), Ouessem (Jean-Pierre Martins), Tony (Antoine Oppenheim) and Jimenez (Aurelien Recoing) and put on ski masks for the attack on the gang who killed the cop. It a skyscraper apartment building and the elevator does not go above the four floor so to reach the gang they have a long walk. First is the problem of the downstairs guard. They subdue him and Jimenez sets the tone by coming over and killing him, they are here for a bloodbath he says.
They make their way up the stairs passing a couple people who still live in the squalor of the building. A woman we find out later is a teacher, the building Super who wants to join in on the raid when he finds out these masked men are cops. People who will see later in the film. The cops are obviously a tight group, family and family gets vengeance for their fallen comrade. They can here the gang members shouting as they get to the door, they prepare to blow off the lock, but the building super shows up gun in hand and loudly proclaims he can help them. This was all the gang needed. They shoot through the door hitting Jimenez and getting the upper hand on the cops. The cops are taken prisoner, the super is killed down the hall, apparently the gang is not someone to be taken lightly either. The leader is Adewale (Eriq Ebouaney) and his younger brother is Bola (Doudou Masta) Nigerians who sell drugs out of this apartment. With drug dealer Greco (Joe Prestia) and other henchmen Kim and Seb they start abusing the cops thinking they have something to do with a captive they already have in the bathroom.
While downstairs there is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Just shadows and sounds at this point but it is coming.
The Nigerians kill the cop Jimenez who was bleeding out anyway and shoot Tony in the leg to try to get answers. Bola the younger and less restrained gang member kills the guy in the bathroom. Things look bad for the cops when we hear the unmistakable sound of a zombie in the bathroom. When the door is opened the guy in the bathroom is a zombie and attacks. The gang members all shoot like seventy rounds all into his chest but he keep coming, he bites a member of the gang, they respond by trying with fist and feet to beat him down, until finally smashing his head in. Rule in zombie fighting, shoot for the head.
Chaos begins with more zombie attacks until we have three gang members, Bola, Greco, and Adewale and three cops, Aurore, wounded Tony and Ouessem they lock themselves on the roof. We get the big reveal of how the city is burning. The survivors come to terms with the fact that if they want to get out of the building and possibly the area they had better work together. The directors Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher and the group of screenwriters have done a good job setting up subtle and obvious conflict not just between the groups but within each group. Already we see Adewale trying to restrain his younger brother Bola, and the fact that neither really has a lot of respect for Greco. There already are hard feeling in the cops too in that they failed in there attempt to kill the gang members. Still they all realize that in order to survive they all need guns, ammo and an understanding not to kill each other.
They make their way back to the apartment creeping along trying not to attract zombie action. They load up on guns and ammo. We learn that The death of the cop that started the film may have been contributed to by Aurore telling him she was pregnant right before he confronted these gang members and that the other cops blame her. To get out of the building they have to go down the stairs. They come across some zombie sounds on a floor and have to spread out the party a bit. Tony and Aurore are separated, Greco is stuck on the wrong side of the stairwell door when the zombies attack. A woman zombie tackles Tony and Aurora is there to help while two more attack Greco. He is quite the boxer and has a drag out fight with the two. He manages to get through the door but not before getting bitten by a zombie.
In the apartment Aurora kicks the female zombies ass finally smashing the head to bits. Tony is bitten on the shoulder. There interaction shows that Tony like Aurora but she is only interested in two things. Protecting the life of her unborn baby, and getting revenge for the death of its father.
The main group comes across an older man Rene (Yves Pignot) who is killing zombies on his own with an ax. They hold up in his apartment and we learn he is a bit off his rocker. He does suggest cutting the infected leg of Greco though. A good idea that we know won't happen.
Tony and Aroure have it out with their interpersonal stuff, he loved her but she did not return the feeling. She is bullshit and is going to cuff him, possibly in case he changes but he thinks to leave him behind. He begs for his life. He uses her confidence to make his move knocking her into a mirror and out.
All through there is good tension as people work reluctantly together. Bola always seems to need restraining from his brother. It really works as a diversion from the standard who will survive story adding to the already crazy situation. In Rene's apartment we also get to see the news on the TV and see that the undead have overrun the city but survivors are fleeing so there is someplace to try to get to.
Aurora wakes and has to deal with some nasty cuts on her face. Tony is gone
The main group comes up with the plan to head down the elevator shaft instead of the infested stairways. Bola doesn't like this plan but his Adewale sides with the cop Ouessem on this one creating a bit of a fissure between the brothers.
There is a scene next where the teacher from earlier, now in full zombie mode attacks. The main group shoot out her legs so she is crawling towards them. Bola and Greco start playing with her, getting close, laughing, dehumanizing her like a rapists with a victim. This pissing Adewale off and he shoots her in the head and confronts his brother reminding him how they were treated in Nigeria. This further foreshadows the split of the brothers, as Greco comments to Bola how it is not right to be treated that way. This is when Tony appears, he starts to explain that Aurora has been turned when BANG! his head is gone and she is behind him. "He couldn't be trusted" she says when confronted by Ouessem. " He was part of the family God Damn it" as now there is tension between the cops.
When they get down the shaft to the fourth floor, Bola and Greco hold everyone up taking there guns and leaving them. So sad for Adewale when his brother yells at him and then leaves him unprotected behind. The Group now consisting of Aurora, Ouessem, Adewale and Rene head to the Supers apartment on the first floor because Rene knows he has guns there.
From here in the movie you can guess the outcome for Greco and Bola. When the final group gets to the parking garage things get crazy. There are lots of zombies, self sacrifice and mayhem. I don't want to spoil it but the scenes are very fun to watch with the action ratcheted sky high. Finally when the last two make it out of the building and into the morning light the movie holds true to its form and ends satisfactorily. Considering how many writers were involved in this one I am amazed that they pulled this off as well as they did. They chose never to explore the cause of the undead, it was just a fight for survival through one long night.
Rating (6.8) 5.0 and above are recommended In Zombiegrrlz rating I would rent it.