Zombieland vs Carriers


Since most of you probably haven’t seen Carriers, or may have missed Zombieland, this article will be spoiler free. If you are one of the few people that happened to catch both of these films in the theater, then it would be impossible to ignore their glaring similarities.  Both involve a large apocalyptic even that almost entirely erased humanity.  In Zombieland, there is some kind of non-specific infection that turns the population into zombies.  In Carriers, there is some kind of non-specific infection that kills everyone.  Zombieland has us following a band of four survivors while Carriers has us following a band of four survivors.  Oh and in both films, they are on a road trip across the country to connect to something that they remember from their past, assuming that the end goal will be a place to take refuge.  See that?   They are basically the same movie on paper right?  Well… actually, they couldn’t be more different in tone, theme, and idea.

And you know what?  They both succeed fantastically at their respective subgenres.

Zombieland was a straight up horror/comedy.  Sure it interspersed moments of emotion and deep seeded personal issues, but that never detracted from the fun and interesting ride that the rest of the movie was.  In any horror comedy worth its weight in guffaws and gore, there has to be tons of laughs and of course, something has to be at stake.  We have to identify with the characters (on some level) before they fall into a life threatening situation or else it’s just a comedy with some things that we recognize from other horror films.  Zombieland exceed very well by balancing scenes of gore and absolute terror with genuine black humor.  The movie is a home run, and rather than sit here and tell you specific story ruining plot points, I’ll just say that whenever it comes out on DVD, blind buy it because it’s awesome.

Ok you caught me.  I just wanted to talk about Carriers a lot because I felt that it was an interesting movie.

Carriers was one of those movies that got a raw deal when it came to distribution, kind of like Midnight Meat Train.  It was originally purchased and planned to be distributed under the Paramount Vantage label but unfortunately, Paramount dissolved the branch and the few movies left to be released got buried in the vault.  This is why Star Trek was important. 

J.J Abrams’ Star Trek casted a young (fairly) unknown actor named Chris Pine, who was also one of the stars in Carriers.  Trying to capitalize on the new found stardom of Chris Pine, Paramount did the logical thing and released carriers in 2,000 theaters nationally.  Oh wait, no they didn’t they dumped it into about 100 theaters.  A few weeks later in September, it was gone until it hits Home Video.  There are of course, many reasons why this happens to a movie.  Maybe it was more profitable to hold on to it, dump it, and toss it onto DVD to try and catch some fan boys off guard then to put all that marketing money into it.  Well for whatever reason, the viewers were denied a great horror movie.

Like I mentioned before, Carriers has a lot of things in common with Zombieland.  Maybe that was its undoing.  Think of the same situation that happened with The Thing and E.T. back in 1982.  The country fell in love with a touching story about an alien who just wanted to “phone home” and eat a bunch of Reese’s Pieces.  There was absolutely no room for an alien that assimilated itself into any human being on the planet while being as extremely violent as possible.  Therefore, The Thing suffered at the box office and didn’t become a hit until it reached home video.  This seems to be the same thing that happened to Carriers.  It was finished and completed the same time as Zombieland’s big announcement and with just enough similar key plot points, the sad film fell by the wayside.  Well, I shouldn’t say sad, it’s more like Carriers doesn’t have nearly the amount of broad appeal that Zombieland has.  It’s not a knock on either film at all; it’s just the truth of the business.  Zombieland was a horror comedy that wasn’t just for horror fans.  Carriers is a serious and hard hitting drama with a few terrifying instances.

What I found so interesting about carriers was the fact that it didn’t pander to anyone.  It was about four people who all know each other trying to find a place to ride out the virus that has killed a whole lot of people.  There are no zombies, infected, or crazies that need to be dispatched and dealt with which was kind of a surprise to me.  The movie is about people and their relationships with one another.  Whether it be a family, some friends, or a group of strangers, they get treated the same way.  It’s an interesting commentary on the idea that we put on false fronts to different people so that they don’t see who we really are.  Of course when there is a deadly virus all over the country killing any person that comes in contact with it, it really strips away a lot of social interaction that isn’t really important to that whole “survival” thing.

I wrote this little tidbit for a couple of reasons.  First off, I feel that a lot of people are well aware of Zombieland and have a good feel for what Its about.  From the trailer of Carriers, it’s impossible to not think that it’s a 28 Days Later clone.  Fortunately for everyone, it’s not.  It’s a tension filled horror movie about people pushed to their absolute extreme and how they deal with it.  It’s about exploring ourselves and the decisions we make in life and how we deal with them.  It’s very much a heavy handed version of Zombieland.  That isn’t meant to take anything from Zombieland; I’m just saying that it is a very different film that you should give a spin when it comes to DVD in February.

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