Another movie night… The Horseman (2008)

I’ve got a habit of recording stuff from the Independent Film Channel & the Sundance Channel that I’ve never heard of and watching it later. Most of it turns out to be artsy-fartsy or just plain run-of-the-mill poo but once in while something interesting crops up. Such is the case of The Horseman, a 2008 Australian film written, directed & produced by Steven Kastrissios and starring Peter Marshall.

Peter Marshall as Christian

Peter Marshall as Christian

Usually when I think of Australian films, I think of Mad Max… it’s been my favorite movie since I was 10 (I’m now 42) and I’ve yet to find another film that makes me feel the same way that Mad Max made me feel at 10. I never really considered Australia a rich source for films despite the great number of extremely talented Australian actors & actresses. The Horseman doesn’t do much to change my overall perception of the Australian film scene, since it’s a genre film from a new talent, but it has given me a reason to look for other films from the folks involved in this one.

Marshall plays Christian, the father of a teenaged girl who becomes involved with the local criminal element, specifically pornographers, and ends up overdosing during a video shoot. After learning of his daughter’s death, Christian becomes a machine of vengeance, the Horseman of the title, punishing anyone he discovers to be remotely involved in his daughter’s death.

During his quest to locate all those he deems responsible, Christian encounters a teenage hitchhiker, Alice, who reminds him of his girl. He offers her a ride, which leads to her unwitting involvement in his crusade.

Guess where he puts those fish hooks...

Guess where he puts those fish hooks…

First let me say that I’m not into torture-porn, such as Hostel or its sequels, and some critics could very well classify this film as such, but without the violence it includes, this film could be considered a darker shade of the Liam Neeson film Taken. The Horseman is violent. Extremely violent. I’m not talking about quick bouts of fighting or gun play. The scenes are long, drawn-out, up-close ordeals. If Christian was not such a sympathetic character, it’d be quite hard to watch.

There are no fancy gun fights, no kung fu. Think hammers, pliers, flammable liquids, razor blades, garden hoses, etc. Nothing especially creative, just to-the-point punishment for deserving scum-of-the-earth that made the mistake of crossing the wrong man. Unlike Neeson’s character in Taken, Christian is not a trained killer, nor does he have any hope of being reunited with his daughter. He’s an average guy, an exterminator by trade, relying on adrenaline instead of skill, trying to relieve the tremendous despair resulting from the loss of his only child.

This is a humorless 96-minute plunge into the soul of a man who has found himself in the depths of hell, cliche but true. If revenge flicks are your cup of tea, check out The Horseman.


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