MSRP: $19.99
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

Commentary by director Jonas Akerlund and DP Eric Broms
• Deleted scenes

The Pitch

It’s Se7en with horsies.

The Humans

Dennis Quaid, Zhang Ziyi, Clifton Collins, Jr., Peter Stormare, Eric Balfour, Patrick Fugit, Chelcie Ross, Lou Taylor Pucci, Liam James

The Nutshell

Homicide Det. Aidan Breslin (Quaid) is a near-burnout and emotionally distant from his two sons, Alex (Pucci) and Sean (James) following the death three years prior of his wife.  As a former forensic odontologist, he gets the call about a mouthful of disembodied teeth found out in a frozen field.  This is but the first salvo in a series of murders that are thematic of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  As Breslin tries to balance reconnecting with his family and solving the case, he discovers a disturbing connection between himself and the killers.

The Lowdown

Offhand I’d say that Horsemen is, at the end of the day, a formulaic and ultimately flawed endeavor, but done so in a somewhat interesting way and that the whole shebang relies on the portrayal of Quaid to salvage it as much as he does.  The whole setup of this thing is that there are a group of killers who watched Se7en a few too many times.  They like to string their victims up by hooks on custom-made rigs with the words “Comes and See” emblazoned in paint on four structures – usually walls, around the victims.  Their MO is that they represent the Four Horsemen, which ultimately means that there will be four victims, and none of them went pleasantly. 

The first victim discovered is a mother of three who had had her fetus cut from her womb.  She’s represented by red all over the place, indicating Death.  Also, one of her daughters is an adopted Chinese girl, Kristin (Zhang), who is devastated by the brutality of the murder.  Another victim is a second grade teacher, who is represented by Black.  Clues to his murder lead Breslin to a tattoo parlor where the rigs were made.  A third victim is the guy who had his teeth ripped out, but he’s not strung up by hooks like the previous two. 

“This is what’s left of last guy to question my English…”

While Breslin finds himself embroiled in these heinous, ritualistic murders, he’s trying like hell to reconnect with his two sons, the elder of which, Alex, is a smart but disaffected teenager who frequently skips school.  He’s deeply resentful of Breslin choosing work over them, and especially bitter that Breslin missed his mother’s death while working on a case.  Though Breslin makes an attempt to reach out to his sons for the first time in three years since his wife’s death, he’s repeatedly foiled by the Horsemen case looming over him.

“How many times are we gonna watch this?”
“Hang on, this is the good part.  This is where Meg and I get married and I show her my miniaturization chip cuff links in the limo.”
“You know this isn’t healthy, right?.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well, can we at least watch Flesh and Bone or something?”

Without trying to give too much away, it’s revealed that the killers don’t want to remain anonymous, and one of them even comes right out and produces the homemade-abortioned fetus taken from the first victim.  The second killer, who had family problems, makes a gruesome example (hilariously gory scene by the way) of himself in front of one of his disapproving family members.  The final killer is hardly a shock once the Horsemen’s motivations are discovered and is actually telegraphed fairly early. 

G.I. Joe production, Day 1, fifteen minutes in: Quaid realizes what he’s gotten himself into, dunks head in nearest sink…

Quaid is affecting as a cop just doing his best – yet failing – to try to hold onto his family.  However, the film suffers from what I assume is over-editing and numerous reshoots as you never get a good sense of the killers and the statement they’re trying to make.  One of the killers is just dumped into the story in the middle of Act II to give himself a bonesaw massage, and then is essentially gone again.  So you feel like you’re playing catch up the entire time as most of the action occurs offscreen.  There are references made by the killers, who are online, but you never get the sense of how their final goals will play out to that audience.  Zhang tries her best to portray a victim who’s lost it, but never reaches what she’s aiming for (although her English is a lot better).

Although he had experience in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Saw producers were nonetheless impressed with Eric Balfour’s audition tape…

Horsemen has an interesting premise, which seems harder and harder to do in the serial-killer-with a theme subgenre these days, but it can’t deliver fully on that theme and apes a little too much from other pics that paved the way.  It’s torture porn, but you consistently arrive post money shot, if you get the drift.  If it weren’t for Quaid, this would probably have gone direct to video.  Horsemen might be worth a rent, but that’s about it.

The Package

The film transfer is fine, but the audio is maddeningly low sometimes.  I spent half the movie reading subtitles.  Not sure why they changed the original box cover art to the above, because I liked this earlier version much better because it’s more visceral:

There’s a commentary by director Jonas Akerlund and DP Eric Broms and about eight minutes of deleted scenes, some of which might have been better served remaining in the film.

5.6 out of 10