France isn't exactly known for their contributions to zombie cinema. Britain has done well - 28 Days Later set off a wave of imitators - and Spain, with the [Rec] franchise, has shown that zombies do indeed come from hell. But France?
That's all about to change.
Not since Jean Rollin made 1978's The Grapes of Death, 1980's Zombie Lake and 1982's The Living Dead Girl , has there been a wave of French zombie movies, and directors Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher are riding that wave with their latest, The Horde (or Le Horde if you want to be that guy), that began with Robin Campillo's 2003 They Came Back (or Les Revenants) and is cresting with The Horde and David Morlet's Mutants, which both are being released in the U.S. this year. May not sound like a boom (and forgive me if I left one out), but 3 zombie movies in 7 years is practically a gold rush for the French zombie movement.
Genre fare is increasing from France, and Frontier(s) director Xavier Gens serves as executive producer on The Horde, but it's good to see that manifest itself in a positive way with The Horde, which successfully blends a crime movie with a zombie movie in a way that avoids any From Dusk Till Dawn-transitioning awkwardness. The movie begins with Jean-Pierre Martins as a police officer who leads a group of cops to seek revenge for a fallen comrade against a group of Nigerian gangsters holed up in an apartment building. After the gangsters and cops enjoy a fiery introduction, zombies are immediately introduced and the group of enemies must work together to survive. It's classic horror movie theme - survival amongst mistrust - and while it's worked better in movies like The Thing, it still succeeds in The Horde.
The zombies here are of the running variety, but the basic zombie rules still apply. Shoot them in the head. It's one of the frustrating parts of a zombie movie, either you know how to dispose of them or you have to learn (like Ken Foree silently demonstrating to David Emge in Dawn of the Dead). It's a pet peeve of mine, but this lesson is never properly learned in The Horde, and, to me, it was the only frustrating element, though obscured by the hilarious introduction of elder apartment resident René (Yves Pignot), who's delusions lead him to believe the zombies are the enemy from the French Indochina War.
The good news about The Horde is that it works well, and while it may not successfully set up a literal sequel, there's hope that Dahan and Rocher will tread into zombie territory again. The Horde may not be the most perfect zombie movie ever made, but with excellent acting, gore, and a lack of ponderous exposition, I like what they did here. Viva la France!