Thursday, November 1, 2012
Horsemen is like the umpteenth million post-Silence of the Lambs and Se7en serial killer movie to come out. It's overall story and style is pieced together from countless stock elements; bizarre murders, cryptic clues deliberately left for the police, a serial killer/genius who verbally spars with the protagonist (granted, this role is cast with an actor you wouldn't normally think for the role), shots of desolate, snow covered fields, and a ridiculously convoluted modus operandi for the villains. It's competently done all around, but there's nothing original in the basic outlines of its story or style.
And yet, I kind of really liked Horsemen. Its following shopworn cliches, but it does them right, and gets a strong boost from by a great cast, who are given meatier-than-usual characters for the genre. The cast includes, but is not limited to (I want to leave a few names out because there's a pleasant surprise or two) Dennis Quaid, Ziyi Zhang, Lou Taylor Pucci, Eric Balfour and Peter Stormare. Quaid is the lead, and at first he seems like your standard issue "down on his luck cop," until the movie starts fleshing out more and more what's going on with his sons.
The Horsemen's methods are ridiculous; convoluted to the point of absurdity and ultimately kind of arbitrary (all of the biblical stuff turns out to be a red herring). Yes, but the motivation for the killers' turns out to be surprising, emotional, and fits perfectly in with the film's themes of distant fathers and family members. Anyone who has seen a movie before should be able to guess who the mastermind of the Horsemen is early on, but they might not guess how it all shakes out. Instead of your usual action/suspense climax, the final scenes of Horsemen are surprisingly emotionally raw and heartfelt. It's not often you see a serial killer movie that ends with the hero and the killer trying to find some sort of emotional catharsis together, but that's just what this one does.