Movie Review: Carriers

I reluctantly rented Carriers from Redbox because my wife wanted to watch a post-apocalypse movie. I was expecting a typical gross-out pandemic movie.

As it turned out, the movie has not been marketed very well, because the horror elements are few and far between. There are only a few disease-infested bodies, and they don’t move much. If the director had used them a lot, it would have seemed like an amateurish 1950s sci-fi horror movie.

As it was, the movie was really more like a dramatic enactment of Survivor. Periodically, the main characters have to vote someone out of the game, as it were:  if anyone is found to be infected, they are killed or abandoned as dead, and the remaining survivors move on in order to save themselves. This ruthlessness, combined with the typical post-apocalyptic ambience of loneliness and desperation, provides a rather cynical view of human nature.

Ultimately, though, Carriers just left me really sad. At certain points the director lingered long enough to make me feel the “inescapable sorrow” described by Pearl Buck in The Child Who Never Grew (p. 30). Yet the plot kept moving forward as if there were going to be a resolution. It finally resolved in a purely material sense, but then the narrator wrapped it up and emphasized the fact that his own sorrow simply would never be assuaged.

For myself, the climactic scene with the two brothers was not really that memorable. Instead, I was haunted for days by the scenes of still living people who were abandoned by the main characters. It wasn’t a matter of justice, because the abandoned people truly would have been no better off if they had been allowed to stay with the group. The sad part was the way the survivors passed judgment on the diseased as being basically beyond hope and therefore not worthy of human sympathy.

It would be easy to pull a pro-life message out of this, even though the circumstances in the movie lead inexorably to a sense of resignation. You could even pull an anti-Puritan message out of it, since atheists regularly caricature Christians as insecure, judgmental, insular, and unsympathetic toward the hell-bound.

It also provided a kind of anthropological insight, though, dramatizing how people are separated from each other and cohesive societies are formed in the instinct of fear and self-preservation.  In that sense this movie acted as a sort of anti-Enlightenment fable.

Despite all the wide open spaces and multiple locations, the casting and movements are so constrained that the entire movie could easily be adapted to a stage play (it appears that it was originally written as a screenplay, rather than a novel or stage play). I think this adds to the feeling of pressure to maintain the social unit.

In summary, I recommend it as a thoughtful examination of human society, with the caution that it does contain a few close-ups of diseased bodies and that it is overall very saddening.

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