Posted by: Peter Hall
Written and Directed by Steven Kastrissios, 2008
The revenge thriller is a tough nut to crack. The key to success is diving brain first into a unique angle on a time-tested formula. If you’re Pierre Morel with TAKEN you throw Liam Neeson on a plane to Paris and have him throat chop every scumbag that gets in the way between his ex-CIA skill set and his kidnapped daughter. If you’re first time Australian writer/director Steven Kastrissios with THE HORSEMAN, you send an average father with nothing to lose on the most intense, brutal, nerve-wracking, painful journey towards catharsis I’ve ever seen. Yes, I broke out the E-word.
Kastrissios doesn”t have money for an A-list Hollywood veteran, nor the backing for city-wide chaos, car stunts, or complex gun fights on yachts. So he wrote a script that starts off with Christian, a father who receives a letter and a video tape shortly after the death of his estranged daughter. The tape is of a gang-bang porn the strung-out daughter filmed while high on heroin the day she died. The cops have already told Christian that they found DNA from four different men inside her, but only three men are seen in the tape. It’s the last blow the already broken father can take, so he sets out to find out who made the tape and who the unseen fourth man is.
What follows is a white knuckle thriller that goes into deep, dark recesses that prey on the Mr. Hyde inside anyone who has truly loved another human being. I may have fears of the unknown, fears of tall, lanky grey men from beyond the stars staring at me while I sleep, but what happens in THE HORSEMAN is my absolute worst nightmare. I’m not yet a father, but if what happened to Christian’s daughter were to happen to my wife, I would track down and every single motherfucker who had even the slightest involvement and stick a knife in their throat. Just thinking about that scenario makes my blood boil, but to see that hypothetical captured so well on the screen, and to see how wrong needs for revenge can quickly go, shakes me to my core more than any horror movie I’ve seen this year.