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The film follows John Crenshaw as he accompanies his girlfriend and her students on a weekend nature-photography expedition deep into the woods. What should be an educational and fun-filled weekend turns into horror as the group is besieged by an unspeakable evil - a horde of hideously disfigured, mutated humans with an insatiable taste for blood. As things go from bad to worse, Crenshaw becomes their only hope if they are going to get out alive.Written by
No doubt the reason for a brand of whey protein a power drink are thanked in the credits to "The Horde" is because they helped keep its multi-functioning star Paul Logan -- who also wrote, produced and did fight choreography -- shredded and pumped. Logan's big biceps and lean, mean torso are the main attraction of this turkey, and a few more shirtless scenes would have been welcome. There's not much else to look at or appreciate.
Logan plays a SEAL who accompanies his fiancé, the world's worst nature photography teacher at some kind of probably for-profit rip- off college, on an "extra-credit" class camping trip. She has great advice like "try different settings" and "experiment," and inspirational pitches like "there's beauty everywhere." Her remedial students aren't terribly interested in photography and seem barely able to hold a camera -- one could be forgiven for thinking the film's title refers to them instead of the group of inbreds who kill, kidnap and torture them in the woods, until of course the muscular Logan snaps into action. The students are all either one thing -- the spoiled rich kid is just a spoiled rich kid, the horny couple is horny all the time -- or nondescript. Logan the screenwriter hasn't mastered creating characters that are remotely lifelike, even his own is one-dimensional. That's probably why they cast terrible actors -- why waste the money on good actors when you aren't giving them anything to play?
This is a combination trip-to-the-woods horror film and "Rambo"/"Missing in Action" style military action film. I guess we are too far removed from Vietnam for Logan to be re-fighting that war, so instead he picks off mutants of the horde the way Chuck Norris used to pick off Viet-Cong. Unfortunately, the mutants are about as uninteresting and uninspired as the hapless soldiers were, which is a problem for the horror-film part of the story. Costas Mandylor does a good job as the horde's opportunistic ring-leader, and Matthew Willig looks suitably imposing as his main henchman, but isn't given enough to do. Considering how much build-up there is to the fight between Logan and Willig, it is really disappointing that it didn't turn out better. Logan the fight choreographer is fine if not innovative, and Logan the actor is good at action, but director Jared Cohn doesn't have a knack for shooting action sequences in a dynamic way, at least not on this film's obviously limited budget. There is less of a sense of place (it isn't set anywhere specific) or realism than in ultra-low-budget films like "Deadly Prey" (to which this owes a debt). They are about as deep in the woods as your average company picnic, yet somehow this mass of mutants has lived there for decades unnoticed by the people of Topanga, where this was filmed, or the staff of the Burger King that is probably 10 minutes away from the location shoots.
One oddity: Don "The Dragon" Wilson, for my money the least interesting action star of the 1990s, has an entirely pointless cameo. I guess they couldn't get Norris.
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