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Simon Read [Film Festival 11.04.09] Australia movie review thriller

Year: 2009
Directors: Steven Kastrissios
Writers: Steven Kastrissios
IMDB: link
Trailer: link (We're quoted!)
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 7 out of 10

Steven Kastrissios’ brutal revenge film The Horseman kicks off with a two men beating the living daylights out of each other, until one man is crippled, doused with petrol and roasted alive. The survivor calmly cleans himself up, changes clothes and drives off in his pest control van. This is Christian (played to the hilt by Peter Marshall), and through flash-backs we learn that his daughter was found dead after a porno shoot for a sleazy adult film company, run from the aptly named “BloodSports Gym”. He’s pretty pissed.

This Aussie film has a vibe very similar to the Liam Neeson action/revenge flick, ‘Taken’. Both are fast-cut, very violent, slickly directed and are almost unbelievable in the punishment the protagonists give and receive. Think Death Wish for the 2000’s. These kinds of films either fail or succeed depending, in my opinion, on how much fun they are; how entertained I feel. In this sense, Horseman is pretty good. Christian drives from warehouse to garage, to gym, to remote shack, all the while dishing out his own brand of justice based on his own moral code (dig that name: Christian).

While the people he faces-up against are frank and rational, and explain quite simply that his daughter was a regular porn actress who had a spiraling heroin habit, he ignores this completely until they give him the next name, then he butchers them in various inventive and squirm inducing ways and moves on. This sort of thing could be boring and repetitive if handled badly, but the film drops in enough other elements to make it work, including a touching relationship Christian develops with a hitchhiker; a young girl called Alice, who’s traveling to ‘take care’ of a pregnancy.

Alice and Christian form an agreeably believable friendship (perhaps one of the only truly believable elements the film), as they both develop into surrogate father/daughter figures for each other. There’s one scene in which she offers him a cigarette, and he tells her about they days in school when he thought smoking made him cool. “I thought I was the coolest fucker in school, then thirty years later you think about quitting, but your teeth are yellow, you smell like shit, and they’ve got you by the balls…” and he promptly lights-up.

As the film moves along Christian becomes increasingly worn-down, until a startling third act brings all his murderous crimes to an abrupt climax in which he faces-off against the real villains behind his daughters death, and has to fight to save young Alice, who’s been dragged into this battle by accident.

Of course it’s all extremely far-fetched and at times just plain ridiculous and the skewed code-of-ethics that Christian operates by is a far-right fantasy with a raging hardon. However, the fight choreography is bone crunchingly good and it’s so over-the-top that it’s entertaining, plain and simple.

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