Film review – The Horseman (2008)

Christain (Peter Marshall)
Christain (Peter Marshall)

Christian is a middle-aged exterminator whose daughter has died from a heroin overdose after appearing in a seedy porn film. Racked with grief and rage Christian travels across rural Queensland to hunt down the men involved and execute them. The Horseman is a gripping revenge film with an incredible kinetic energy. The fight scenes are brutal, raw and don’t look choreographed. Most of the more extreme acts of violence occur off-screen, making their impact far more disturbing.

Peter Marshall portrays Christian with an astonishing nervous energy. He’s a man capable of great violence but he’s never at ease with what he feels compelled to do. Vengeance for him is not an act of justice or catharsis but a purely primal impulse. Similar thematically to Paul Schrader’s Hardcore and similar in tone to other revenge films such as Mike Hodges’s original Get Carter, Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes and many of the films of Park Chan-wook (Old Boy), The Horseman is a highly entertaining thriller that leaves you exhilarated but also a little queasy and tarnished about having just witnessed such a bleak depiction of humanity. This is an excellent début film by writer/director Steven Kastrissios.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

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