View Full Version : The Horseman

Steve R
06-22-2010, 10:21 PM
Steven Kastrissios' The Horseman is an Australian film that...
Well jeez.

You know the scene in King of Ants where they pummel the shit out of the guy with a golf club? Well that's an appetitzer for this unrelenting series of way brutal scenes, after scenes of battery.

A pest control dude in a jump suit finds out his daughter died form a herion induced chocking a la Hendrix and then he gets a copy of the porno tape she was forced to make just before she died. He goes on a rampage to find the killers. But this is no Hardcore trip like we saw with George C. Scott. There is the young hitchhiker girl he picks up that becomes his new proxy daughter but there is barely any writing here at all. The photography is abysmal and is topped off with that drain all the color out process favored by the digital set. None of these guys have the slightest idea what a movie light is for.

It has some of the feel of those really depressing cat III HK movies that went way off left field into the dark regions. Make no mistake this is one dark mother of a film. It is more brutally violent than much you'll encounter. But it is not really action. It is not really horror. I'm not sure why I finihsed it, but it has one helluva ending. I will say this. You feel all the pain as it is inflicted. There is not much style to the delivery, but the amateurness brings out the wincing, howling and unbearable expressions of pain the victims go through.

I'm not even sure how I feel about the damn thing now.
Next time I have to pick up a sledgehammer, I know this film will come back to me.

Anyone else seen it?

Simon M.
07-11-2010, 09:11 AM
Relentless is one word that describes this film. A man who goes over that line and loses his humanity. You start to wonder if he's the villain after seeing all the atrocities that he commits. DEATH WISH didn't even go this far when dealing with the consequence of revenge. This is a must see and I heard it was shot for 10,000!

Gary Banks
07-11-2010, 11:34 AM
Don't know how to link this up from my Move Mayhem thread in the horror section so here it is:

The Horseman-Maybe I'm a wuss but this is one of the most cringe inducing films I've seen in quite some time. Christian is a single dad who gets the worst possible news. His young daughter dies from a drug overdose. If that isn't bad enough he gets a porno tape in the mail starring his daughter. He takes it upon himself to visit the producer with a specific intent in mind. He's going to kill every one of the people involved in this film. Christian takes his toolbox and starts torturing and killing his way across Oz. In his travels he befriends a young girl with problems of her own. This is a balls out violent revenge film that manages to gross you out yet leave even more to your imagination. Chris employs a crowbar and a pocket knife as weapon of choice but isn't above genital torture as an appetizer. Great big fishooks and even a tire pump are used on a couple of gents. So for the first hour Chris is a busy boy...until the hunter becomes the hunted and then things really get nasty for all concerned. Chris may have bitten off more than he can chew and an innocent may be in harm's way. We're talking nipple removal and blow torch torture plus gallons of blood. This film works on a lot of levels. As an out and out revenge flick it covers all the bases and also as a character study it works well. The people he is after are pretty much one dimensional. Only a few of the porn ring show some humanity and a real surprise is the wife of one of the "stars". Christian (Peter Marshall) comes across as a genuinely likeable guy....unless of course you are on his list. So you do sympathize with him even though he goes absolutely batshit crazy in his need to avenge his daughter. Pretty grim stuff but very human at its core. If you are squeamish then this film isn't for you.

Stuart Willis
07-11-2010, 01:54 PM
Agree with much of what you say Gary.

My review from Sex Gore Mutants (I'm not sure how to link straight to the review either!) :

The film opens in spectacularly angry fashion with overall-clad Christian (Peter Marshall) bursting into an unfortunate's house armed with his pest control equipment and a crowbar. Christian smacks the fuck out of the skinny cameraman before him, and then trashes his collection of porn videotapes before getting a few names from his victim and storming out of the house, setting fire to it behind him.

Then he calmly changes his attire and saunters off in his white van, stopping at a cafe for a steak. It's here that Christian meets teenage traveller Alice (Caroline Marohasy), who he offers a ride to. "Is this your business truck?" she asks. "Yep," he replies, citing "pest control" as his line of work. Quite.

Before the vitriolic mayhem continues, a flashback montage throws some light onto Christian's vigilante plight: to locate and slaughter those involved in the death of his daughter.

Amid old home movie-style clips of his daughter Jessica as a toddler, we witness scenes such as the day the cops asked Christian to identify his teenage daughter's corpse, and then proceeded to tell him how she'd been found on an industrial estate - her corpse bloated by alcohol, cocaine and heroin.

Days later, Christian had received a porno tape anonymously through the post. Entitled "Young City Sluts 2", Christian viewed the cassette and was mortified to find his daughter getting fucked by three men. The police informed Christian that a fourth, unidentified, man was also involved.

Interspersed between scenes of Christian and the largely oblivious runaway Alice bonding in motel rooms and driving relentlessly in a bid to find the elusive final piece of the puzzle surrounding Jessica's death, are further flashback scenes to Christian catching up with the various parties involved.

He begins by tracing the production of the videotape to a small rental store and torturing people for further names. This takes him through fisticuffs at a gym, a nasty bit of mop-wielding violence at one bloke's home that would make Toxie proud, and more sadism that at times verges on being cartoonish. Fishhooks, knives, bicycle pumps, iron bars, sledgehammers and even bare fists are among the other weapons put to brutal use by Christian in his bid for a truth he may ultimately not want to discover ...

THE HORSEMAN is a vicious revenge thriller that nods to forefathers as old as THE VIRGIN SPRING and HARDCORE, while also evoking more recent efforts such as DEAD MAN'S SHOES and TAKEN. Despite being nicely shot on HD and benefiting from stylish cinematography from Mark Broadbent, however, the film lacks the finesse of any of these other genre examples.

Instead, it goes for the violent pay-off every time. As such, it's no surprise that the film is gaining lacklustre reviews from mainstream press while gaining praise from the likes of Fangoria, Ain't It Cool News and WOLF CREEK director Greg McLean.

It's a thriller with religious allegory to spare (the protagonist is called Christian; the film's title is apocalyptic; he's sent to avenge his child's death; the theme of redemption that creeps in), but ultimately it's low budget trappings and penchant for gore are going to make this one that only the horror crowds are likely to warm to.

Writer-director Steve Kastrissios' feature debut, based on his own 2006 short film of the same name, was the proud winner of awards for Best Australian Film and Best Australian Director at the 2008 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. It's since gone on to make the selection for 2009's Frightfest in London. The chief reason for these accolades is undoubtedly the film's crowd-pleasing lashings of gory catharsis; much like DEATH WISH, THE HORSEMAN invites its audience to revel in the violent slayings of one despicable character after another.

All of which is no bad thing in terms of sheer entertainment value.

The action is frequent, and filmed in an unflinching manner that will no doubt bring joy to the hearts of sadists everywhere. The choreography of the fight scenes is supervised by Chris Anderson (KING KONG; MAD MAX) and therefore is as assured and kinetic as you'd imagine it to be. The blood runs red and the screams of loathsome, unapologetic males barely stop during the 94-minute running time.

As a revenge-fulfilment fantasy, an exercise in unrelenting machismo, THE HORSEMAN is a stylish and highly proficient actioner. Where it falls down is in the lack of decent plot, script or characterisation. Storytelling, it would seem, is Kastrissios' weak point and I'd be interested to see if the original short film worked better than this overlong reworking of his (hardly) original idea.

Still, I'm not knocking the film too hard. For all that it's villains are portrayed as one-dimensional perverts with not a shred of humanity between them, and for all that the bond between Alice and Christian never fulfils it's potential, this works as simple entertainment with a violent streak to rival Darren Ward's upcoming A DAY OF VIOLENCE.

Also, the big thing that works in THE HORSEMAN's favour is Marshall's lead performance. The guy is frequently riveting, providing a career-best portrayal of a man destroyed by his own desire to avenge his child's death. It's an emotive starting point, one that's not difficult to side with. From here, Marshall delivers an intense performance, one that ultimately leads to some disturbingly authentic-looking tears. Impressive stuff, indeed.

Not your average Multiplex film, then, and certainly not what you'd consider as a date movie (unless your date happens to be Rose West).

THE HORSEMAN is a dark, uncompromising and almost absurdly violent low-budget revenge thriller that will alienate almost all but less particular horror fans and those with a bent for people getting their nipples torn off with pliers and then blowtorched.

On that level, it comes recommended.

Simon M.
07-11-2010, 08:06 PM
I went into this film not knowing anything about it other than it was a revenge film. Reading the above might spoil it for some. Sometimes it's better to know as little about a film so there can be some surprises.

Dominic D
07-11-2010, 08:48 PM
Storytelling, it would seem, is Kastrissios' weak point and I'd be interested to see if the original short film worked better than this overlong reworking of his (hardly) original idea.

I haven't seen the Horseman but Kastrissios is a local boy and I did see the short a couple years back at a short film night at a nearby bar. The fact that I still remember it shows it did make an impression but it's not so much a short film as it is just the first five or so minutes of the film. (Spoilers) Guy turns up at a mans house, sprays for bugs a bit and then beats him to death and leaves. And that's all you get. At the time it did look like a dry run for a feature so wasn't too surprised when it turned up at MUFF in 2008.

Fucking good effort to get a cinema release and all this notice for such a cheap film.

Aaron G
07-12-2010, 07:32 AM
yeah I'll hafta get it on video. I don't mind a bit of bogan horror. I thought WOLF GREEK was the best Oz horror film ever made!

Aaron G
07-21-2010, 09:28 AM
..yeah just watched it. Top notch modern Oz-ploitation. Kinda like a bogan version of THE LIMEY, it's set in Queensland, so I'll give them that.

I recommend it to other Maniacs and other splatter freaks.


Lots of man-on-man biffo-agro, more thudding bloody, spitting action than FIGHT CLUB.

Fans of UFC and 'shit thats Brutal' will be in heaven with this film, but some might be offended by the 'conservative' 'anti porn' tone of the film. It sorta goes deep...

I still don't know why it's called 'the horseman', 'the norseman' seems more pertinent! :p

NOTE: it's a football pump.

Ian F
09-02-2010, 11:18 AM
Damn The Horseman was a brutal film, but man was it good. It was a strange mix of action, crime, horror, and slasher. Very effective film. The handcuff scene was great. I did find myself cheering the hero more and more as the movie went on. Partially because the people that he encountered became worse and worse.

Hence why the handcuff scene is a great buildup.

..yeah just watched it. Top notch modern Oz-ploitation. Kinda like a bogan version of THE LIMEY, it's set in Queensland, so I'll give them that.
I though The Limey was more "clean" for lack of a better word. Although its a great movie, in fact its one of the first movies I rented when I worked in a video store.

Fans of UFC and 'shit thats Brutal' will be in heaven with this film, but some might be offended by the 'conservative' 'anti porn' tone of the film. It sorta goes deep...
I don't think it's Anti-Porn as much as don't bang my daughter while high. I think rape (or non-consensual sex due to intoxication) just makes the hero more justifiable and the villains lower. Though there is a running theme of maybe what the villains are saying is true.

See I don't think it's overly brutal as much as just realistic. If you've ever read description of the stuff that happens in Mexico today, it seems almost tame and it honestly lacks the OTT/Rube Goldberg style of the Saw films and the pointless stuff from Hostel. Christian is mostly torturing for information (and to an extent revenge/pleasure). The worst torture is when people finally catch up to him and it's logically that they would do horrid things to him based on his actions. Most of the worst stuff is not shown, it's are own imagination that builds the violence in our head.

As a revenge-fulfilment fantasy, an exercise in unrelenting machismo, THE HORSEMAN is a stylish and highly proficient actioner. Where it falls down is in the lack of decent plot, script or characterisation.

I think in a way the audience can fill it in, much like how we make the violence worse by invention of the mind, we invent the characters in our head based on the little detail given to us. I love well developed characters, but I don't think this movie would have benefited for giving us more than the bare essentials. Dead Mans Shoes was a revenge film more driven by character (or our observations of them).