Thoughts on Carriers

Friday, April 2, 2010 10:50 AM By Simon


While billed as a post-apocalyptic horror, Carriers never truly terrified me in the way that a horror would. Besides the what-if factor, pandemic, epidemic, etc, it was never very scary.

What it was, though, was absolutely sad. Sad as in, ball my fucking eyes out sad.

We follow two brothers, Chris Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci as Brian and Danny, Brian's girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Danny's friend Kate (Emily CanCamp), are on a roadtrip to the brothers' childhood vacation spot, Turtle Beach, to try and wait the pandemic virus, unnamed, out. Already, we get tragic masked as dark humor, when, during a game of (what's the name of this?) Who Am I, when Kate asks if he is alive or dead, and everybody jumps in to remind her of the absurdity of this. Okay.

Sadness hangs over this movie more than horror ever does. Everytime they go to a gas station, drive down a street, stop at a broken car for gas, we are reminded of the people who had once been there. One gas station has, on it's price board, the message (something like this, anyway, I can't remember word for word): "Mike's Dead. Meet Me At Dad's". While cruising down a neighborhood, we see houses marked with how many dead bodies there are (were), compared to how many lived there. You ever see pictures of New Orleans houses after Katrina? Picture that, but on an otherwise clean house. Garbage trucks labelled "Emergency Body Pickup" or something like that abandoned on the side of the road, literally brimming with garbage bags full of people. Brian reminisces of the beginning of the disease, when he was paid $400 a day to bury bodies in a stadium, some of whom were still alive. As they drive, they keep the radio tuned on, and occasionally catch someone calling out on a radio, asking for help, preaching of their immunity (in the same breath, coughing), or just talking until their generator goes out.

Christopher Meloni's Frank breaks the foursome's car early on in the movie, so that they have to bring their gas so he and his infected daughter (Kiernan Shipka) can get to a rumored cure for the disease in another state. But when they show up, they find that it was only a neutralizer, that only worked for three days. Now, the last doctor alive has rounded up the last of the patients, a group of young children, in the base, an elementary school (with career day banners still hung up), to put them out of their misery with some Kool-Aid. What follows is the saddest sequence ever to grace our humble cinema screens.

But what got me most was the end. The very last scene, which is so very heartbreaking I'm considering watching Never Been Kissed on TV to counteract my melancholy.

*Seriously, spoilers, bewareth*

Brian, after Bobby has been infected by Frank's daughter, right before they ditched the two at the elementary school, is forced to drag her out of the car, leave her some supplies and instructions on how to be most comfortable when the time comes, and drive away with her screaming and begging them not to leave her alone. But, little, oh little, do we know, Brian has also been infected. This is revealed when, after Danny tries to get some gas from a car driving by, driven by two middle-aged Christian women, Brian shoots them down as they try to drive away, but not before one of them can get a shot at his leg. When Danny and Kate inspect the bullet hole, they find the telltale bruises of an infected person.

After some talking in front of a fire, etc, etc, Danny and Kate, thinking Brian has died, try to drive away, only to find Brian is alive, and has the car keys. Unwilling to die like he's seen so many people die, he forces Danny to shoot him. The remaining two then burn the body and leave the next morning.

Then, they finally get to Turtle Beach. Except, it is not the memory of Danny's childhood, because, without Brian, or anyone to share the memories with, it's just a place. An empty place that might not even be a good hideout, because the food has rotted, and there's ni fresh water, and he's there with a girl he realizes he doesn't really know. As he puts it: "Two strangers with nothing left to say". He comes to the sinking realization that, from now on, no matter what happens, he will be alone. Not even waiting the pandemic out serves as a solace, because it won't repopulate the planet, it won't bring his brother, his parents, anyone back. So now, he's stuck with Kate, who's been nothing but a pouty, useless chick up until now.

Okay, I'm done. But, seriously, how fucking sad is that? I'm sick of tragedy.