Thursday, 12 August 2010

La Horde

Full disclosure: I’m a 2nd generation Briton of West African descent. I am 100% Yoruba. Following the Holocaust of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade our diaspora is stretched across the New World: the United States, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia. Haiti.

(Nigerian) Yoruba are majority Christian minority Muslim but the old ways are still believed. To wit should you worship Christ or Allah you believe the devil exists. The weak spirited will look for short cuts. The ones with evil intent will approach sorcery. In Haiti the old ways merged with Catholicism. The resulting new religion is called voodoo.  
America didn’t invent zombies but they sure know how to mass market them.

The zombie film is distinct in its two sub genres; the allegorical and the action/thriller. The respective yardsticks are the ingenuity of George A Romero and the bombastic gluttony of Lucio Fulci. There is a further (undefined) division – that of foreign zombies (the exemplar being Danny Boyle). La Horde 2009 is a French action/thriller zombie flick. Its raison d’ĂȘtre is to kill as kill can but every movie has subtext – intentional or otherwise.

The premise is grand larceny of the crumbs from the mouth of [Rec] 2007. Be that as it may there remains mileage in an undead siege of a tower block. La Horde has two factions at war; the cops and the robbers they have come to kill. After the initial shootout the survivors of both teams must band together to fight off the horde.

Alas the moment is lost.

What should become an exploration of friend and foe whilst under death stress instead descends into a shouting match. In zombie films the characters typically do not have backstory. It is their actions and decisions that define them and induce our empathy-sympathy. The actions and decisions of the characters in La Horde render them irritating, idiotic and – yes – ultimately boring. Ergo who cares who dies?

There is incoherent editing during hand to hand combat scenes. Since the focus of this film is action that decision is baffling. The movie also fails to follow its own logic. In one scene a zombie has super human strength. In another a mass of zombies have no strength. Then there is the usual time lapse inconsistency between bite and infection found in all zombie flicks.

Yet at one point it seemed this story was going to go beyond the films that had come before it: A female zombie is being tortured. Her shirt is removed. Her body is beautiful. The filmmakers step back from the rape. It’s a missed opportunity to register the reaction of the survivors. How much humanity they have left and how the dynamic would change from cops and robbers to rapists vs righteous. Alas this film had already made the decision to abandon character/audience challenges.

There is a theme in this film I will challenge. It is something as pervasive in Western cinema as to be almost invisible. Two of the crooks are called Ade and Bola. Them’s Yoruba names. They talk of Nigeria as if it is a war zone. Ade mentions the horde reminds him of (federal capital) Abuja.

Other films have pulled this dirty trick; X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2009 depicted Lagos as a war zone. The Bruce Willis vehicle Tears of the Sun 2003 depicted Nigeria in a contemporary civil war. The Nigerian civil war 1967 – 1970 is over. Just like the American civil war, the Irish civil war, the Spanish civil war, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Yugoslav Wars. Abuja has never been in a war zone or experienced any form of civil or military strife. Nigeria is a multi-party democracy, a partner in the war on terror and an American ally.

Yet this is how we’re treated.

This is how the West would like to see us –torn apart by war. This is the wishful thinking of the Hollywood hate mongers. This is the disinformation constructed and consumed by their willing audience. It is an eye opener for all Nigerians at home and abroad. Be careful who your friends are: the West wants us dead.

Special mention to the South African made District 9 2009. It portrayed Nigerians as savages showing that the Afrikaner has learnt nothing and appreciates less. It also shows that the African should be more temperate in forgiveness. District 9 scored a 91% positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Nazis had their great filmmakers too.
 Read more Thrill Fiction: Re/Made: The Thing
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