More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 18.18%
Average: 9.09%
Pretty Bad54.55%
Total Crap: 18.18%

1 review, 5 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Road Not Taken, The by Jay Seaver

Great Battle, The by Jay Seaver

True Fiction by Jay Seaver

Pick of the Litter by Jay Seaver

Fahrenheit 11/9 by Peter Sobczynski

House With A Clock In Its Walls, The by Peter Sobczynski

Life Itself (2018) by Peter Sobczynski

Unity of Heroes by Jay Seaver

Hanagatami by Jay Seaver

Predator, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Horsemen, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"Parents, hug your kids. Or else!"
2 stars

A halfhearted serial killer mix of “Seven,” “Saw,” and “Strangeland,” “Horsemen” is the latest installment of the horror-torture genre, composed with an eye toward merging “C.S.I.” aesthetics with the single-father domestic worry of an ABC Family sitcom. It’s a grim picture, but utterly ridiculous; a film encouraged by its own sense of misery, though in service of a director who botches the delicate balance between procedural nightmares and familial concern.

A detective who’s buried himself in work after the tragic death of his wife, Aidan Breslin (Dennis Quaid) is lost in depression, unable to communicate with his two children (including Lou Taylor Pucci). When a serial killer arrives on the scene, targeting the greater Detroit area with promises of a biblical apocalypse, Aidan is assigned the case, finding the sole suspect, a demented killer named Kristen (Ziyi Zhang, hopelessly miscast), holds disturbing clues to further victims. Entering the fetish underworld of Suspension, Aidan works around the clock to crack Kristen’s elaborate codes, hoping to avoid further bloodshed by educating himself on the killer’s ambitious inspiration: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Director Jonas Akerlund assembles a dynamic aura of panic for “Horsemen” that, for the initial 45 minutes, finds a special rhythm of pleasing despair. Utilizing desolate winter locations (welcomingly balancing out the pedestrian acid-washed cinematographic manipulations), Akerlund captures a chilled air of dread that’s incredibly satisfying, promising “Horsemen” has something shocking up its sleeve that will separate it from the rest of the tiresome serial killer genre.

Unfortunately, “Horsemen” doesn’t have any unique plans in mind. Outside of one marvelous reveal of a dead fetus, the film is pretty much devoid of scares or compelling turns of suspense. Considering his last picture was the intentionally insufferable meth comedy “Spun,” it’s a surprise to see Akerlund dial down the volume on his directorial choices. The passivity is encouraging, but the results are muddied, with the filmmaker mistaking lurid detail for persuasive storytelling.

The screenplay by David Callaham (“Doom”) lurches for a biblical tone that bleeds into sadism, creeping around the world of body modification to pack a case of the icks inside the film. While it gives the killer plenty to work with (bodies are hung by fishhooks, with exact medical incisions leading to a slow death), it confuses the focus of the writing. Once the Four Horsemen symbolism shows up to consume Aidan’s investigation, the mixture of biblical promise and psychosexual anguish forms a tedious whole, sending “Horsemen” down a thematic tangent it never recovers from, and one that’s awfully tricky to discuss in a review due to a minefield of spoiler material.

To be fair to Akerlund and Callaham, “Horsemen” has the appearance of a second-guessed film, with subplots condensed, character introductions shortchanged, and psychological strands cut in half. The film limps to a conclusion, and the lack of energy feels like the work of a nervous producer who thought he was funding “Saw 17,” but received a semi-complicated character study instead.

Again, without giving too much away, “Horsemen” eventually reveals it’s not about the scares, but the wrath of a neglected generation. It’s an absurd denouement, especially with all the bloodshed, agony, and torture that precedes it. It’s like trying to pick your teeth with a javelin. Sharp viewers will be able to spot the final twist a mile away, but the shocks are truly secondary to the sheer ludicrousness of the ending, which moves “Horsemen” from an interesting misfire to an embarrassing mistake.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/11/09 07:46:04
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

8/12/09 kayla i found it to be a very good movie nice twist in the end and the plot was good 4 stars
7/24/09 movieholic stupid, mismash of subplots,makes no sense 1 stars
7/22/09 Monday Morning This is a damn fine mystery-thriller. DQ is great. 4 stars
7/21/09 George (DUKE) I knew his son was in on it from the moment I saw him, I just didnt know how. 3 stars
7/18/09 MoovieMac Very disappointing and clumsy. Bad writing and acting and pointless exercise. 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  06-Mar-2009 (R)
  DVD: 14-Jul-2009


  DVD: 07-Jul-2009

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast