Film: Carriers

Cover your mouth when you cough, please.

Carriers is a 2009 horror film about four people fleeing a viral pandemic. Two brothers, Brian and Danny, along with Brian's girlfriend Bobby and Danny's friend Kate, are heading to a place where they believe they can take shelter and wait for the viral pandemic to die out - a place called Turtle Beach, where Brian and Danny used to spend their holidays as children. Of course it all goes to hell from there.

In order to survive, the group agrees to a set of rules:

1. Avoid contact with the infected at all costs.

2. Sanitize anything an infected person might have touched in the past 24 hours.

3. There's nothing you can do to help the infected; they're already dead.

4. If you follow these rules, you'll live ... maybe.

But then again, it's easy to come up with a set of rules; it's much harder to actually stick to them. Think of it as a road movie version of Cabin Fever played bone chillingly straight.


Provides Examples Of:

  • A House Divided: Some of the characters are more sentimental than others.
  • Apocalypse How: Seems to be a Class 0, or possibly a Class 1.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Only small pieces here and there, such as the gas station sign altered to read 'MIKE DEAD MEET ME AT DADS'.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Brian considers his constant Shooting The Shaggy Dog to be this, everything from abandoning Frank and his daughter, to killing the two women for their gas, to the reveal that he had left his and Danny's parents to die when they left their home, though he told Danny that they were already dead from the virus. He is NOT happy about this role mind you, and eventually gets into a fight with Danny over his percieved moral superiority.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Danny and Kate survive and arrive at Turtle Beach, but all Danny can do is think about his childhood there with his now dead brother, and that he will always be alone.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Maybe but probably averted - Brian has an M1911 pistol, which holds 8 rounds (7 + 1 in the chamber), yet nobody is ever shown reloading the gun. However, time passes between scenes so it's reasonable to assume it was reloaded as necessary over that time, since it was never fired too many times at once.
  • The Chosen One: Brian says that he considers himself 'chosen', since he dug graves for 400 bucks a day and yet never got sick, while people who instantly holed themselves away died. Frank then immediately calls him out on this, asking what the hell makes him so much more worthy of living than his infected five-year-old daughter.
  • Death by Pragmatism: While all the characters are relatively Genre Savvy when it comes to survival, Brian - the most pragmatic of the bunch - dies.
  • Deconstruction: Sure, many horror films are filled with young groups who die from being Genre Blind. But this movie goes to show just how hellish it would be to stick to unsympathetic survival rules no matter what the cost. Sure, you might survive - maybe - but would it even be worth it in the end? And could there have been situations that might have been avoided if they showed an ounce of compassion?
  • Development Hell: The movie was finished as far back as 06 but was shelved for 2 years, before finally getting a limited release in '09.
  • Despair Event Horizon: All of the characters eventually, but most noteably Frank when he finds out that there is no cure for the virus and the Safe Zone Hope Spot is a dead end, and Kate once she stops looking for a working phone.
  • Disaster Scavengers: How the group gets by.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Brians story about him having buried victims of the Virus alive are very reminiscent of some accounts of the Black Death.
  • The Fundamentalist: One of the radio stations has a long, furious sermon from a minister saying how the plague was an act of God to punish the wicked and 'seperate the wheat from the chaff' ... until he starts coughing.
  • Genre Savvy: The four main characters have a set pragmatic, unsentimental rules that they follow in order to stay alive.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Some characters (especially Brian) are determined to survive, no matter the cost.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The main symptom of the disease, combined with Blood from the Mouth. Getting coughed on is the most common way to get infected, but skin to skin contact also works.
    • The disease is also literally incurable.
  • Jerkass: Brian, full stop. Even the rest of the group tells him what an asshole he is, both jokingly and seriously, and he makes many situations worse by just being an asshole.
    • Perhaps also Bobby, who had good reason to believe she was infected but told no one and got someone else infected in the process.
  • Justified Criminal: They scavenge what they need from abandoned places and from the dead.
  • Mercy Kill: The doctor who poisons a group of infected children, rather than letting them suffer for days in agony before dying from an incurable disease. Also being infected, he kills himself as well.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Danny thinks Brian crossed this when he reveals that their parents werent dead yet when they abandoned their home and set out on the road, Brian had just told Danny they were to get him to leave. Brian eventually tells him he crossed the Horizon much earlier, during his work digging graves for the virus victims back when society hadnt completely collapsed yet. Some of the bodies werent dead yet, but Brian buried them anyway, because he saw his supervisor pretending not to notice, so he pretended everything was fine too.
  • Not So Different: The main characters and the armed survivors in the HAZMAT gear occupying the golf course. Both groups cling to the idea that survival is possible if you obey a rigid set of rules, and both fall to pieces when they realize its impossible to completely insulate yourself against the virus, no matter what precautions you take.
  • Pay Phone: One of Kate's quirks is checking every single payphone she comes across, trying to find one with a dialtone so that she can contact her parents. Bobby eventually mocks her for it, saying that her parents are obviously dead. Near the end, Kate looks at another phone ... and doesn't bother checking.
  • Psycho Party Member: Brian
  • The Scapegoat: The group witnesses a bunch of rednecks shooting a fleeing asian man. The next day the dead man's corpse is tied to a windmill with the sign 'chinks brought it'.
  • Sex Slave: When the group is ambushed by the men in HAZMAT suits, they order everyone to leave ... except the girls.
    • Although one of them protests and would have been forced to leave had the other survivalists not discovered that Bobby was infected.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: It did exist at one point, and was part of a worldwide attempt at engineering a cure. Unfortunatly, the best they managed was a serum that extended the lifespan of an infected for three more days, and eventually, everyone except one infected doctor and a handful of sick children are the only ones left...
  • Shoot the Dog: Quite a few examples, including Brian leaving the father and daughter behind, Brian leaving Bobby behind, Brian shooting two older women when they refuse to give them gas, Daniel stealing the car keys, and Daniel eventually shooting Brian.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The way Bobby was infected - she broke their makeshift quarantine to help an infected girl who was choking on her own blood. Arguably all of them they all break containment at multiple points and make endlessly ill-thought out choices.
  • What Happened To Mommy: Both painfully subverted with Bobby as they just decided to leave her behind, and played straight with Brian, as his brother shot him in the desert.
  • The Plague
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Brian, above all the others, is determined to survive no matter what he has to do ... even break his own rules.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Although all of the main cast agree to Genre Savvy rules, they're still too immature to survive on pragmatism alone. Many situations could have been avoided if they had been mature enough to handle the moral quandaries they come across or act like an actual team. For example, if the group stopped enabling Brian's dangerous attitude early on before it got out of control.
  • Zombie Infectee: Infectee in the traditional, medical sense, but the trope still applies.