What separates Carriers from other films in the zombie subgenre is the lack of zombies. While other movies focus on a group of survivors fending off hordes of undead/infected as well as the occasional corrupt sect of humans, the protagonists of Carries deal with personal hygiene. Any direct contact with the infected assures a slow death and some indirect contact is jut as vexing. They have established rules that they follow meticulously, keeping Clorox on hand to wipe down phones and cars. Their surgical masks are fondly personalized with Sharpie drawn animal mouths and protruding tongues.
Our protagonist quartet is comprised of fearless leader Brian (Chris Pine), his brother Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), Brian’s girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) and their pal Kate (Emily VanCamp). They are on a road trip across the desert of the western United States, fleeing a viral disease that has crippled the country. The brother’s plan is to head to the beach of their youth and hopefully wait out the virus.
As much as I like the possibility of the zombie movie minus zombies, the plot of Carriers is uneventful. Characters do all the textbook things to compromise their lives, there is little interaction taking place, and the entire plot be can summed up in a few sentences. Performances are only par for what would be expected from a film made by professionals, and it’s apparent that the lack of material has a big say in this. Chris Pine is the average aggressive older bro who has to look out for the pack. Lou Taylor Pucci is the green, cowardice younger brother whom the audience is destined to align. And just think, the females have even less character to build upon. Piper Perabo is understanding, while Emily VanCamp is a cold and distant golfer.
Even with the introduction of a few more characters offering subplots, there is little to hinder our troupe of survivors. Their charted destination is idiotic and the journey in between isn’t full of laughs or intrigue. It turns out that harrowing ordeals of personal hygiene don’t make for a very interesting movie. I never would have guessed. If there is redemption to be found in this tight, sub-90 minute, non-zombie flick, it’s in the production values. Directing duo Àlex Pastor and David Pastor put together a visually attractive film. Bitter sweet is the effort put into the makeup for the infected. These are some of the most authentically decrepit walking dead (not the best term in this case) I’ve ever seen. What a waste to not flesh out the story and give them more than a passing cameo. **