Review: The Horseman (2008)
Director: Steven Kastrissios
Starring: Peter Marshall, Caroline Marohasy and Brad McMurray
From Mad Max to Wolf Creek, Australia has managed to keep up a fantastic tradition of exploitation film making over the decades. I’ve enjoyed more films from down under in the last few years than from any other country. And the latest flick to meet with my hearty approval is this gritty and violent, oh, so violent, revenge thriller, The Horseman. How the hell director Steven Kastrissios has managed not to make another film since 2008 is beyond me. What a travesty, especially when you consider that fellow antipodean Peter Jackson has been spraying multiplexes with a relentless and seemingly uninterrupted geyser of his warm, foetid brand of family-friendly diarrhoea since what seems like forever.
The story of The Horseman is refreshingly straightforward. Christian Forteski’s daughter is found dead from a drugs overdose. Shortly thereafter, Christian receives a video tape in the mail. The film’s title is ‘Inner City Sluts’ and, unsurprisingly, Christian isn’t thrilled to discover his daughter starring in the movie. What’s more, it is apparent that her scene was shot only hours before her death. From there, Christian, a broken man, sets out on a blood spattered road trip of bitter vengeance, systematically torturing and murdering the men whom he perceives to be responsible for his little girl’s fate.
This film is really violent. It’s on a par with The Raid, both in terms of violence and, well, just how much bloody good fun it is. I have a high tolerance for screen violence and I winced more than once during the film’s 96 minute running time. Speaking of The Raid, whilst this film doesn’t have any martial arts experts in the cast, the fight choreography is pretty damn good, with anything and everything used as weapon, from a crow bar to a plant pot. Admittedly, the camera work gets a little bit unsteady, but nothing too bad. The film’s quirky sense of humour and sheer inventiveness make up for any shortcomings. The scene where Christian takes a football pump to a guy’s genitals is particularly harrowing. Yes, at times, the self-harming hero goes just a little bit too far in executing his unique form of pest control and you begin to feel sorry for the bad guys.
Along the way, Christian picks up a young runaway. The troubled teen reminds him of his daughter and a tentative bond develops between them, even as she is unwittingly drawn into his dangerous and nightmarish journey. He also encounters a myriad of shadier characters on his travels, including a bent copper with marital issues, a sadist, and his ultimate enemy, a hard-faced drug dealer named Derek.
I mentioned that director Steven Kastrissios hasn’t directed another film since this one, but the good news is that he has another one on the way, Bloodlands, a promising horror thriller concerning Albanian blood-feuds, which is currently in post-production.
For now, check out The Horseman. If Gareth Evans’ next movie is this good I’ll be pretty satisfied.