‘Carriers’: Viral video

carriersEven though I have included a Halloween alternatives list for those avoiding the latest crop of Hollywood-produced hype, I feel there is one more that should be added to the list of overlooked films that land on local video shelves and Netflix new releases, for it is just one of many films that were all victims of circumstance.

It will not be making its debut on DVD for another month, but it is worth, as “Entertainment Weekly” columnist Stephen King wrote, placing on your rental queue immediately. Because it has been barely released in the US, it is a film that is easy to overlook, but it is hard to forget. And it is called Carriers.

The film stars one of the hottest young faces of the year, the new Mr. James T. Kirk himself, Chris Pine as one of four young adults trying to survive after an epidemic has seized the world they know and laid waste to most of the population. Carriers’ focus is tight, remaining predominantly within the group of road warriors as they attempt to reach an ocean-side cottage two of them visited in their youth.

Pine plays Brian, who, along with younger brother Danny (played by Lou Taylor Pucci), embark to the seaside retreat of their youth with two ladyfriends. Piper Perabo, who is seen far too infrequently on the big screen, is Bobby, Brian’s girl, while Brothers & Sisters’ Emily VanCamp is Danny’s platonic pal.

Their voyage is similar to a more somber Zombieland (there are even rules in dealing with the infected in the first few minutes of “Carriers”). But this is not a typical flesh-feasting flick. Rather, Carriers focuses more on the group’s moral dilemmas in a world gone mad. The ever-dependable Christopher Meloni also appears for part of the film, delivering a heartfelt portrayal of a man desperate to do right by his little girl. It is filled with many a “just what would you do?” moments in which there are few easy answers.

Tough road to release

The film itself was picked up by Paramount Vantage, the independent wing of Paramount Pictures (the same company, by the way, that has done a bang-up job marketing Paranormal Activity). It was a company that only two years ago was bathing in awards-slathered successes of films such as Babel, No Country for Old Men, Into the Wild and There Will be Blood. But as the old adage goes, “you’re only as good as your last picture,” and despite the inclusion of the Oscar-winning Revolutionary Road on last year’s slate, it failed to parlay 2007’s success into box office dollars the following year.

The division’s doors were shuttered, leaving a number of films in limbo, Carriers being one of them. The last film to be released theatrically by the division was the end-of-summer lemon The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard starring Jeremy Piven. One of the survivors of the collapse was, ironically, Capitalism: A Love Story. Michael Moore’s latest doc was picked up by Overture films, which helped foot the marketing and releasing bill.

marcpeaseThe studios closing meant no money was left over for Carriers or the two other films in its vault: The Marc Pease Experience starring Ben Stiller and Jason Schwartzman and Ondine, starring Colin Farrell and directed by Neil Jordan. There are personal wedding videos that got a wider release than Marc Pease – as it was dumped on ten screens on August 21 of this year. Its total gross? A hair over $4,000 (though some reports say that it should stay buried).

ondine01Ondine, on the other hand, had earned raves from crowds at the Toronto Independent Film Festival, where it played in September, but it has yet to land a cinematic sugar daddy that would help place it into theaters.

So, chances are good that is a few months, you will browse the shelves and see Ondine in the new release section and wonder just how a film with such prestigious names and glowing reviews could have escaped you at the box office. If you see it there, just remember to pick up a copy of Carriers as well and show it some much-deserved love.

~ by usesoapfilm on October 27, 2009.

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