Thursday, May 5

Some quick thoughts on The Horde (2009) & The Canadian Blu-ray's Audio Problems

During a totally off-the-books raid to avenge the killing of a fellow officer, a best-laid plan goes bust and a group of cops end up in the armed clutches of the very thugs they sought to take out. Entrapped in a tense situation with little hope, a horde of ravenous undead from the darkness suddenly storm the tower block, and now a vastly worse threat bears down upon everyone still above ground...sort of speak.

It's always a good thing when the same adjectives that mulled around in your head while watching a film are then stated by the filmmakers in the making-of featurette. Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher's The Horde (La horde) is an unpretentious horror/action hybrid in a frenzied "comic book" style. That's exactly how I took this toothy brawler and exactly how both enthusiastic directors describe the film they intended to create.

This crazed Olympic runner zombie entry, in another purposeful intention, doesn't particularly feel French. You could literally pick out and plop in American, British, or whatever actor nationality of your choosing and the film would be indistinguishable from its native country. Dahan and Rocher seemed to have approached the project with a mission to work aganist the ongoing wave of French Horror. Instead of trying to be overtly stylish to mask budgetary limits, Horde's first goal is to be an entertaining genre brew, and it certainly succeeds.

Yet expectations should be checked at the door. Unlike Martyrs or Haute tension, the direction doesn't lust after the genre trying to craft an "ultimate representation", if that makes any sense (and no offense to those fine films). Just a hard-driving walking corpse exploder that focuses on the plight of the living in the middle of a enclosed siege. The same core theme that runs through a vast portion of the subgenre. The special effects are plentiful and strike a great, seamless balance between practical and CG splatter. I know that very mention might scare some, but the mix is handled lightly and roundly embarrasses that piss poor CG gore opener in Romero's Survival of the Dead. The lean and gritty Horde isn't vital; however, it represents a different direction in France's newfound horror output and the country's best living dead far.

Concerning Alliance's Canadian Blu-ray, the 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC-encoded picture quality in the correct 2.35:1 widescreen ratio is excellent. The real story is the problematic audio options. The French lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and standard Dolby 5.1 have no center channel with dialogue coming from the left and right mains. Both also suffer from "canned" sounding effects and and barely any subwoofer response (even with boosting the signal in the receiver). Strangely, the English-dubbed DTS MA 5.1 and Dolby 5.1 tracks correctly have center channel separation, clear dynamics, and crushingly hard-hitting bass. The lossless dub's gun blasts, sucker punches, and large structure-adjusting explosions have much more impact than the French tracks.

Both my PS3 and receiver register multi-channel 5.1 from all these tracks, so I can only assume the French choices are screwed up somehow. This might all sound meaningless. Although this is a Blu-ray and I expected superlative image and sound; only to receive one out of two and something of a glorified stereo experience from the preferred language option. Buyer beware especially considering the highish price of this Blu-ray. I'm still trying to see if others have noticed this and have no idea of the state of 5.1 tracks on IFC's domestic DVD. IFC's disc also features several more supplements like an alternate opening and short film not on this Blu-ray. Shame they haven't issued a U.S. BD edition for some reason... 

1 comment:

Digital Orc said...

I'm not familiar with this edition. Thanks for a great blog! I run a gaming blog that often references horror movies and I've linked you publicly. Thanks for sharing. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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