Carriers Alex and David Pastor

Carriers Alex and David Pastor
Tagging Carriers "horror" is a tad misleading. This is a slow burning morality piece simmering within the framework of an ever-timely, apocalyptic, viral epidemic yarn. Book-ended by home video footage of two brothers playing as children, Carriers follows the siblings as young adults as they and their female companions careen through a wasteland of the dead and dying, their vehicle a floating oasis of hope in a land steeped in despair and suffering. A bit of low key Mad Max vibe emerges as the panicked group rob a man and his infected daughter of gas at gunpoint to stay on the road and ahead of the virus. Rather than flinging the usual host of drooling, malicious disease carriers at the protagonists to shock the audience, tension is mounted via deliberately measured arguments between the group's conflicting survivalist and altruistic notions of acceptable sacrifice in their dire circumstances. Chris Pine is well cast as older brother Brian, a thrill seeking alpha male whose viciousness becomes magnified by fear. The meatier female role is in the hands of hardworking Piper Perabo, as Brian's take-no-shit girlfriend. Lou Taylor Pucci and Emily Vancamp are solid as meek voices of fearful compassion early on, although they are overshadowed by the flashier roles of their elders. It's a testament to the whole cast's work that they're able to convey such heavy sentiment with their faces covered by masks for much of the picture. Escaping facial encumbrance, Chris Meloni intensifies every scene he's in as a father who may or may not be immune to the disease, desperately trying to find a cure for his dying daughter. All of the characters bend their ethics in the name of survival, though a survival of questionable value in light of what may be lost in attaining it. It's a thoughtful alternative to the typical gore-saturated genre fare, although the unhurried pacing may test some viewers' attention span. The neglect and lack of marketing confidence that short-changed this quiet success of a theatrical run also rob Carriers of special features. (Paramount)