It's the end of the world, but just as we know it.
Modern day America. A deadly, indefinite virus has plunged society into a dystopian chaos, leaving four young friends to traverse the desolate landscape in frenzied but futile search of a cure. If this premise is starting to sound a bit familiar, that’s because Carriers is nothing new. It is, in fact, the most generic of genre films, formulaically stuttering along and ticking boxes en route, before retiring as tamely as it arrived.
Originally billed for a 2007 release, Àlex and David Pastor's directorial debut may not have seen the light of day were it not for the presence of Chris Pine who, feet firmly back on Earth after this Summer's intergalactic voyage, takes charge of proceedings as the film's bullish, shoot-first-ask-questions-later antihero.
While his brutish bravado paints Pine as the films primary aggressor, he is ultimately little more than a condemned casualty of a global pandemic, appointing himself as protector for his girlfriend Bobby (Perabo), brother Danny (Taylor Pucci) and school friend Kate (Van Camp).
Although it is a charmless turn from Pine, his abrasiveness at least stimulates some conflict, while the rest of the groups endless bitching and head scratching is entirely unconstructive if not insufferable.
Budgetary constraints consign the film to the shallower depths of the end-of-the-world gene pool, but the Pastor brothers do manage to utilise the vast expanses of the Great American West to some effect, juxtaposing the steely optimism of our hapless protagonists with the wasteland that will inevitably consume them.
Ambling through empty backroads in search of fuel and shelter salvation becomes a fast fading likelihood, however, and subsequently the deflating moods of our would-be survivors takes its toll on the films pace, which becomes increasingly protracted.
Here is a prime example of studio bosses missing the mark in trying to squeeze financial success out of a screenplay that would have benefited from a defter touch. In a post-apocalpytic wake the central characters increasingly strained relationships underscore the film with psychological tension and trauma, marking this as more of a character piece than a high-octane horror show.
In lacking both subtley and specatcle, however, Carriers timidly takes its place in the realms of forgettable science-fiction fodder.
After two years on studio lockdown enthusiasm is always going to be hard to ignite.
Naïvely banks on a leading man who found his feet in space but fails to hit to the ground running here.
Not a disastrous debut, but forgettable nonetheless.