Released in September 2009 by Paramount Pictures, the original direct-to-video format Carriers shows the hard choices mainly by four people in an apocalyptic era of a deadly virus spread.
One of the choices made was the abandonment of a father Frank (played by Chris Meloni of Law and Order fame) and his daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) in a town sucked dry of life by an airborne virus.
Mainly, this and the other choices were by Brian (Chris Pine, Star Trek), with the other three –Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), Bobby (Piper Perabo), and Kate (Emily VanCamp)– just countervailing points of weak rationality.
Brian’s predilection was summed up by the doctor Meloni sought for a serum for his daughter: “Sometimes choosing life is just choosing a more painful death.”
But Meloni still carves up hope, goading Jodie to walk to a potty. She takes three steps but the virus has weakened her so Frank hugs and carries her.
While keeping a masked Jodie to his chest, Frank walks across a desolate street, both singing “the itsy-bitsy spider...” as the SUV sequestered by Brian and the three drove off to another direction.
There's a sense, however, that sadness will linger and the choices they made will haunt them.
It’s a same theme that runs in films penned and megged by master story-teller George Romero albeit in this case house, supermarket, and nuclear silo is the whole America.
Government abandonment, a similar theme in most apocalyptic movies, leads to chaos and the breakdown of rationality, leaving the choice of right and wrong to the individual.
The impotence of the State justifies the privatization of choice: Brian acts as judge, jury, and executioner.
However, the speed by which Brian acquired the power to decide who lives or dies –he shoots those who refused to give gasoline, not because they were infected– is as fast as having lost it as they near their goal, which is a beach frequented by him and brother Daniel. The beach clearlt symbolizes the time past, shown in a montage of sepia images of the toddler brothers.
Human comprehension, however, fails to assuage the horror of Brian’s character’s choices: their attenuating cause as well as the consequences.
This, I guess, is the point of this movie by sibling-directors Alex and David Pastor, since despite survivors having reached the edge of a salty expanse, sadness lingers.
Maybe the Pastor brothers pinned these to what their characters have become with the choices the characters made along the journey.
For all its flaws –as some critics pointed out in their reviews, Carriers is a movie that pokes the brain with questions.
It challenges the weight we give to values that help us rise above baser instincts to survive at the expense of the frail, weak and dispensable Other.
The movie also stirs the possibility of the latter scenario if the State leaves in an SUV, leaving us on a desolate street of hopelessness.
“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create,
to overcome, to endure, to transform,
to love, and to be greater than our suffering.”
–Nigerian author Ben Okri