2009's Carriers is a film that went mostly unnoticed at the box office, as well as a film that no one really expected anything from (myself included), which could have had to do with the PG-13 rating, mixed with the somewhat youthful and attractive cast. I'm not one who believes that PG-13 horror cannot work, I just thought the movie looked weak and uninteresting. Still, when reviews came in and were mostly positive, I figured it was worth a look, and I am a sucker for any sort of Apocalyptic film, so my arm need not too much twisting.
Carriers keeps the story basic albeit slightly predictable, focusing on four survivors (played by Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, and Emily VanCamp) that are traveling the empty dessert highways as they try and survive a viral epidemic that has taken out much of the Earth's population. The story is simple, but doesn't treat the viewer as if they them self are simple. There is very little to no exposition, things unfold naturally and there is no over explanation as to what is going on. The film starts right off, without the usual back-story, and you really don't need it, as it becomes apparent through character interaction and the setting how things got the way they are.
While there are a handful of well staged moments of tension, Carriers is not really a "horror" movie per say. It's more of a dramatical road film, with the focus being mostly on the characters as they try and keep it together to survive this pandemic. The only threat posed is from the infected, as their presence can spread the sickness either through the air or through blood. Other wise, they are just men and women that are slowly fading away to death, not aggressive or rabid zombie type of monsters, which is a nice chance of pace. There are no big action moments or wild special effects, it's a low key drama fueled thriller that goes through the paranoia motions from time to time.
One could consider the film's antagonist to be the four main protagonists themselves. They live by rules to keep themselves safe from infection, and play by what is an everyman for himself game of survival when it comes to characters they have run-ins with. One of the portions of Carriers that I found myself enjoying most was the interaction between the four main characters and a father and his sick daughter that they run into (played by Christopher Meloni and Kiernan Shipka, respectively). Meloni is fantastic in this small role and the father/daughter characters are clearly used as instruments to pull at the viewer's heartstrings. In my case, It worked.
One of the few downfalls of the movie is it moves a bit slow at times, especially towards the end. However, the film is short, running at about 85 minutes, so there isn't much time for the film to wane too much on the viewers interest. Still, Carriers is good all around, with solid, simple direction from brothers Àlex and David Pastor. Everything about this film is simple, but it succeeds by doing what works and does so competently, without force fed plot points and exposition.