Director: Anthony Woodley
Writers: Luke Healy, Helen Kingston, Stefan Mitchell, Anthony Woodley
Stars: Zora Bishop, Rebecca Johnson, Edmund Kingsley
A few years back I wrote a positive review of Outpost 11, an idiosyncratic little science fiction film directed by Anthony Woodley. Well, the good news is that Woodley has now made a sophomore film – something which isn’t always the case for promising first time filmmakers – and, what’s more, it’s pretty good. The Carrier is a more mainstream affair than Outpost 11, which given the increase in budget isn’t exactly a surprise (IMDB quotes £3 million, which sounds over-inflated to me), but it still retains enough personality and originality to make it something more interesting than yet another run-of-the-mill zombie movie.
In fact, it’s not a zombie movie at all; the world in this case has been struck by an extremely virulent epidemic which has spread all the more quickly because of the reckless abuse of antibiotics (topical!) Unlike 28 Days Later this virus doesn’t make people psychotic, instead causing them to erupt in unseemly buboes and then simply die in pain. Nonetheless, the government shuts the borders in order to stop the infection, but before they manage to do so a small group of characters makes an escape in a Boing 747, flying around in the hope of finding somewhere isolated to hide out until matters improve. Unfortunately it rapidly becomes clear that there simply isn’t anywhere safe to land and, what’s more, some of the passengers are already infected.
This follows the zombie template of having an isolated group of characters fighting against an external danger and more particularly among themselves. The infected here make for a rather sad bunch: they’re not wanting to kill anyone, they just want to stay alive and doing so means – in their eyes at least – taking over the plane and heading off in search of a mythical cure (in Greenland, bizarrely). It’s the idiotic and irrational behavior of the survivors which gets them killed. As well as being a director, Woodley also works regularly as an aerial technician (on films like Spectre and Casino Royale) which explains how he came to set most of the action on a plane and at airports. He was also the standby art director on the 2012 horror film Airborne, which had a similar setting and not 100% removed storyline. This is a step up in technical terms and he does an accomplished job as well as drawing good performances from a well chosen group of performers (including co-writer Luke Healy and Billy Clarke, both of whom were also in Outpost 11). It isn’t by any means perfect – the scenario is too familiar, the passengers too lightly sketched, there’s too many CGI shots of the plane in flight – but I really hope that Woodley gets the opportunity to make more films, because he’s establishing himself as one of the more interesting voices in British genre cinema.