The Horseman (2008)
By: James Gillett on May 18, 2010  | 
Kaleidoscope | Region Free | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS Master Audio 5.1 | 98 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Steven Kastrissios
Starring: Peter Marshall, Caroline Marohasy, Brad McMurray, Jack Henry
Screenplay: Steven Kastrissios
Country: Australia
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After his 18 year old daughter is found dead as the result of a heroin overdose, pest controller Christian (Peter Marshal) anonymously receives a tape of her drugged and performing in a low rent porn film. Shattered and enraged, Christian sets out to find those responsible and bring them to bloody justice.

This is revenge, Aussie style. Brutal, bleak and uncompromising, Christian is an unwavering force of violent rage and retribution as he tears his way through the scum he holds accountable for the abuse and death of his daughter. But, this isn't merely another by the numbers kicking-ass and taking names exercise (though there's plenty of that here), The Horseman presents its lead as a truly tortured soul, so deeply in pain that murderous vengeance seems his only recourse. Playing out in the vein of a hard hitting drama as opposed to something you're likely to see from the typically action-esque sub-genre, The Horseman delves into the emotional pain of its character, and refreshingly avoids playing its revenge elements for cheap thrills and audience fist-pumping satisfaction.

But just because it's a seriously minded piece is not to suggest it's lacking in punch. The Horseman contains some brutal scenes and prolonged torture as Christian kills his way though those involved. While it's not for the squeamish, it complements the impact and consistently raw and bleak tone the film strives for, and achieves. First time Writer/ Director Steven Kastrissios also does a fine job keeping the film unfolding in a tight non-linear fashion, and a subplot involving a teenage runaway, who acts as a kind of surrogate for his lost daughter while also being something of similarly lost soul, anchors the film between bursts of violence.

Some distractingly inconstant performances pop up unfortunately, but it's mostly isolated to the supporting cast. Peter Marshal has the toughest job as Christian. With the entire film resting on his shoulders, he needs to exude both venerability and strength, and he tends to succeed. Caroline Marohasy as the teenage runaway Alice also does a fine job, lending the right balance of wide-eyed innocence and damage.

The films only real shortfall is giving Christian a near super-human ability to fight, take a beating and generally get himself out of trouble, if only because it seems slightly at odds with the film's otherwise grounded approach. The decision to use VHS tapes as the format of choice for the pornographers is a bit odd too, given this doesn't appear to be a period piece, but really, those are only minor gripes in an otherwise impressive film.
Presented at 1:85:1, this 1080p 24p HD transfer is a solid one. The HD Digital photography, graded by the director to give an almost filmic quality, is presented with strong detail and clarity. This is definitely the ideal way to experience this film outside of a cinema.
We get a pleasing DTS HD Master Audio track that perfectly complements the visuals. Clear and balanced.
Extra Features
First up we have The Making of The Horseman (37mins) featuring on set footage and interviews with Writer/ Director Steven Kastrissios and others. It's an interesting watch as Kastrissios talks in depth about both the genesis and production of the film. Also available is a short film (15mins) which was initially made to attract funding for the project. A few decent deleted scenes (9mins) adding some extra character background and a Trailer round out the package.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Raw, bleak and confronting, The Horseman presents a tale of vengeance far removed from the typical by refusing to merely play out the payback for cheap thrills. Rather, it explores the circumstances' emotional and visceral horror. It's a refreshing approach, and an impressive film in its own right, all the more so for being Director Steven Kastrissios' first. Now, here's hoping it gets some decent Oz distribution.

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