Dennis Quaid looks a gift Horse in the ass
Much like the elderly, direct-to-DVD horror films have much to teach us.
In some cases the lesson to be learned is “John Barrowman has a dirty, dirty mouth” (see: Shark Attack 3: Megalodon). In others it’s that lesbians should never, ever go camping (see: Make a Wish). And in the case of the Se7en knockoff Horsemen (freshly dumped on the side of the road this past month), it’s that when it comes to the apocalypse, War is an overacting Chinese girl and Death is a bitchy sissy who has been pushed one “fag” too far.
Coming from the cinematic visionary who brought us Madonna’s “Music” video and the tweaker opus Spun, Horsemen is one of your standard gruesome thrillers with overwhelming religious overtones that transcends its genre because it takes itself so damned seriously that it actually becomes a parody of itself (see also: Tom Cruise).
Dennis Quaid (still got it!) stars as Abigail Aidan Breslin, a hard-nosed small-town cop whose wife is dead and who is too busy WORKING WITH A CAPITAL W to spend any time with his two sons, Alex (Lou Taylor Pucci) and … er … the other one. Luckily, bonding-time salvation arrives in the form of a silver platter full of human teeth that are found on a frozen pond by a local hunter (seriously). “COME AND SEE” is written in blood at the four compass points around the offering, and despite initial appearances it’s not some lame marketing gimmick for a local dentist.
After a body of a woman is found strung up in her house on fishhooks with her unborn fetus removed from her body (classy!) it becomes apparent that there are four people orchestrating these crimes and that they are emulating the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelations. (You remember: Death, War, Pestilence and … um … Phil? Murray? That last one always gets me…)
There’s something wrong with Kristen… (Ziyi Zhang)
Now, the reasoning behind the murders is pretty hilarious and takes a while to get to, but it’s fairly obvious early on who the ringleader of the gang (Murray? Roy?) is going to turn out to be. But in the meantime we get served one of the hottest over-the-top baddie performances in history, thanks to Crouching Tiger‘s Ziyi Zhang, who plays an adoptee named Kristen (hot already!) who moonlights as “War” and took revenge on her handsy adoptive father (Peter Stormare) by gutting her mother’s womb with her friends. (Jesus, doesn’t anyone just sleep with their parents’ friends for revenge anymore? So much easier on the Rug Doctor bills…)
The scenes between Quaid and Zhang in the interrogation room (she turns herself in, for no apparent reason beyond “the script told me to”) are the hottest examples of Outlet Mall Silence of the Lambs Acting we’re likely to see this year. I can’t decide if it’s more painful to watch Zhang try to make her lines sound effortless and seductive despite obvious language barriers or to watch Quaid commit to the scenes 100% despite the fact that they’re complete and utter trash. Is this really the same guy from Innerspace? Jesus wept.
But for our purposes, another sequence of the film really begs further discussion. About 2/3 of the way in the film, two new characters appear that have no connection to anyone or anything: Corey (Patrick Fugit from Almost Famous) is having coffee with his douchebag brother, Taylor (Eric Balfour from Six Feet Under) at a diner, and we see him slip something into his bro’s drink. Turns out Corey just came out as gay to Taylor (who had already figured it out) and Taylor is not happy about it, launching into a screaming fit about how his fag brother is bringing shame onto the family and blah blah. (Actually, I’d argue that Taylor’s pussyfuzz mustache is more of a public shame than Corey’s gayness, but whatevs.)
Corey leads a woozy Taylor out to their car, but they’re jumped on the way by a guy who I actually thought was cruising Corey throughout the diner scene. Out of nowhere Corey stabs the guy and we realize, of course, that he is one of the Horsemen (Death, to be exact). We cut to Taylor hanging from fishhooks as Corey shoots up PCP and takes a bonesaw to himself in shame, as his brother is forced to watch.
Ain’t sibling rivalries just the PITS?!
If you’re keeping score, this means that one of the Horsemen is an adopted Chinese girl who is the victim of paternal sexual abuse, and another is a gay kid with an abusive asshole of a brother … and one has turned herself in for murdering her mother and the other kills himself while on PCP.
Eventually we get to the hilarious Big Scene, which takes place in an abandoned theater and involves a lot of overacting and shit. But really, you’ll see the ending coming miles away and the movie has pretty much shot its wad already with the whole Corey sub-plot. I have to admit I was entertained enough by the sheer badness of it all to watch all the way through and was a bit shocked by the gay turn of events … but not in a good way.
So thanks, Horsemen! Lesson taught and duly learned: Any kid who is a little bit different will, if not fed and watered and pinched back regularly, turn into a PCP-shooting, fetus-digging psychotard.
Now let’s go, we’re late for your appointment at the glue factory.
RATING (Out of 5):