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What’s it all about?
A seemingly ordinary man turns to violence in this independent thriller from Australia. Christian Forteski (Peter Marhall) is a businessman whose teenage daughter Jesse (Hannah Levien) has been living on the edge since her parents divorced. Jesse runs away from home, and several weeks later Christian’s anxiety about his missing daughter turns into rage when he receives a video in the mail of Jesse being brutally raped. Normally level headed, Christian jumps into his car and sets out to find whoever is responsible for making the video, starting with the people who mailed it to him. While heading north to Queensland, Christian picks up Alice (Caroline Marohasy), a teenage hitchhiker who reminds him a bit of Jesse. Christian and Alice strike up a friendship, and she begins to see the older man as someone she can trust, without knowing that Christian was turned into a deranged killing machine, leaving a trail of victims as he drives across the country to avenge his daughter.
The Hughes Verdict
If Jack Bauer was a real person and not a fictional character in a well loved TV show, then this without no question would be his favourite TV show. Regular viewers of SKY 1 hit 24 are used to the CTU agent either getting or dishing out mindless torture and this Australian thriller not only follows in the traditions of the smash hit, but blows it away by being more vicious and quite right brutal.
Pest controller Christian (Peter Marshall) hears the news that no father would ever wish to hear. His loving daughter is dead! Killed by a drugs overdose, the grief and anger towards the feeling of letting her down, is too much for the father who has the daunted task of clearing her belongings. Out of nowhere arrives a parcel which contains a horrifying tape. His daughter, looking drugged and dazed, starring in an amateur Porn film with a gang of boys. The sight is too much and enraged with fury, he steps on a dangerous path to find everyone involved, leading to blood and mayhem. Could a chance encounter with a young runaway bring him back to his senses or is it too late and will poor Alice who he befriends be the next innocent victim of this terrible cycle?
It probably was not too long before the Torture theme left the world of horror and entered other genres. The Horseman is simply Saw but without Jigsaw and while that may put off many fans sick of the style and nature of these films, Horseman delivers because it packs an emotional punch along the way as the viewer wants poor Christian to succeed with his plan against these quite pathetic individuals.
What stops this from being a film to be talked about, is that beneath the mayhem is a film that just has one trick. Christian doing the tortue while another man turns up, there is a fight, Christian finishes the job and move on to the next. Its an endless routine that makes the film a bit empty, with only the meeting of Alice being the filler before the next event.
But as the subject is realistic and the killings raw, the punch and tension this thriller brings is second to none. Its a mighty fine film that shows that the land from down under is beginning to develop a wonderful knack of great films. Last years affair charged Coffin Rock was a critical hit and of course Wolf Creek as gone down as one of horrors best films of recent times, Horseman is not quite up to that standard, but its still a fine thriller.
The major flaw is the underdeveloped relationship between Christain and young runaway Alice. A chance for the father to maybe redeem himself for his own fallings and to help this young girl is washed away by the director’s Steven Kastrissios need and impatience to move on the next bloodshed.
The torture scenes themselves are quite brutal, a scene involving a pump and a naked man is probably one of the most ingenious torture scenes for many years, such a simple device bringing so much horror, that it puts to shame all the elaborate toys that Jigsaw has in his disposal!
Horseman is a revenge thriller up there with the like of Death Wish, but a lack of a quality script stops it from greatness!