Getting the obvious out of the way The Horseman has nothing to do with horses or the men who ride them. I cannot fathom what the title has to do with anything to be honest.
If anyone can help me please do.
Peter Marshall is Christian – it says so right on his shirt – he is a pest control man who drives a van and carries with him a big toolbox full of all sorts of handy stuff… for the next hour and a half he uses many of these tools to inflict pain and remove body parts all up and down the East coast of Australia.
The Horseman starts with a brutal killing and doesn’t let up until the credits roll. When Christian discovers his teenage daughter has died he is distraught. When a VHS video arrives in his mailbox showing his daughter in an apparent stupor being tag teamed by multiple guys he sorta loses the plot.
Fair enough too.
Christian spends the next few days getting to the bottom of things, making sure he needn’t backtrack by dealing with each and every responsible party at the time he meets them. Where ethics and fairness get blurred is where it seems that more innocent – or at least less guilty – members often receive the same treatment as the deserving. But don’t worry the deserving cop more than their share, as does Christian as he deals out his form of justice.
The fact that Christian does precious little preparation means that he is perhaps ill-equipped to even be on this mission, but fuelled by rage and armed with his toolbox and a nasty little pocket knife he makes do very nicely thanks very much.
His only travelling companion is a young girl named Alice who has thumbed a ride – and who also seems to be on the run from something herself – it seems Christian sees her as somewhat of a daughter figure, which motivates him further at times. He also uses Alice to trigger some flashbacks to further propel the story and fill in the blanks of the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s last days.
I guess it would be fair to compare this film to Kevin Bacon’s effort in Death Sentence, but this film is far grittier and doesn’t bother too much with morals or pure justice. There are no moviestar looking actors in bit roles, no neat and tidy ending or moral to take away. Christian cops as much shit as he dishes out, and he dishes plenty, but nothing goes smoothly and he very nearly buys it on multiple occasions.
This is maybe the darkest, most revengiest film since Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, though without the intertwined story of that film nor the flashy execution. The Horseman is straightline stuff, see bad guy and kill him, move to the next one. Christian doesn’t waste much time with dialogue or pussyfooting around his topics, he is desperate, angry and single minded, and judging by the variation in his methods more than a little unbalanced.
Given what is written above it should be no secret that this is at times gloomy and difficult viewing and will not be for everyone. It isn’t the dreaded torture porn though for a couple of moments it steers a little close to the breeze, but it is exceedingly violent – don’t expect guys clutching at their chests and falling to a big unseen mat filled with air, not when the weapons on display are crowbars, pliers and blowtorches among many other things.
Handy Manny would be appalled at such inappropriate use of maintenance equipment.
Don’t expect to watch The Horseman for a fun time or flashy action sequences and smooth moves, this is a brutal tale of an exceedingly driven and perhaps mentally unbalanced man on his own misguided personal mission. But that said it is a good example of a revenge film and does what it sets out to do.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. There is a saying never get between a lioness and her cub – well the old king lion gets more than a little shitty too – and he has bigger claws.