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Film / Carriers

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Cover your mouth when you cough, please.

Carriers is a 2009 survival horror film about four people fleeing a viral epidemic in US. 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:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The Safe Zone Hope Spot early on is a high school that was turned into an emergency MASH-slash-laboratory to try to find a cure.
  • Adult Fear: Inverted, Kate is afraid for her parents and always trying to call her parents at the last place she heard their cruise ship had docked.
  • A House Divided: Some of the characters are more sentimental than others.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Was it Bobby who infected Brian with their kiss, or the dog eating infected flesh that bit his leg?
  • Apocalypse How: Seems to be a Class 0. Humanity's completely screwed, and we only see one dog carrier in the whole film and not long enough to find out if this is lethal to animals.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Only small pieces here and there, such as the gas station sign altered to read 'MIKE DEAD MEET ME AT DADS'.
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  • Babies Make Everything Better: Invoked, when Brian reveals that Bobby had wanted to have a kid with him after reflecting on leaving her behind.
  • 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 perceived moral superiority.
  • Big Brother Bully: Brian has shades of this, especially in the first scenes, but it’s Anger Born of Worry.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though it borders on being a Downer 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.
  • Crazy Survivalist: On the side of the protagonists, Brian. A whole group of them (who are following a similar set of rules to try to prevent contagion, and still had one member of their group infected regardless of how strictly they stuck to them) live in the golf resort.
  • Death by Pragmatism: While all the characters are relatively competent when it comes to survival, Brian - the most pragmatic of the bunch - dies.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Brian is one for the "Genre Savvy survivalist-type who has a set of rules he follows religiously" in the vein of Columbus. Turns out a Crazy Survivalist with a code is still a crazy survivalist.
  • 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?
  • Despair Event Horizon: All of the characters eventually, but most notably 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?: Brian's story about him having buried victims of the virus alive are very reminiscent of some accounts of the Black Death.
  • Due to the Dead: the shrine at the gas station.
  • 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 "separate the wheat from the chaff" ... until he starts coughing.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Downplayed, but the three blonde group members all have more Pet the Dog moments than Brian.
  • Hidden Depths: Kate is the most reserved and quiet of the main characters, but when they stop at the golf course she turns out to have a pretty good swing, revealing she was her country clubs junior champion for three years in a row and saying "Tiger Woods can kiss my ass" with a rare smile.
  • Hypocrite: in a sense, Brian was willing to leave Frank, Jodie and Bobby. behind but forces his brother to kill him rather than remain to die alone.
  • 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.
  • Insufferable Genius: possibly Tom with his insistence his rules had to have worked after one of his men is infected.
  • 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.
  • Jump Scare: The dead woman in the chair with a shotgun.
  • Justified Criminal: They scavenge what they need from abandoned places and from the dead.
  • Kill the Cutie: We don't actually see it, but the odds that Jodie or Bobby. survived long after we saw them are nearly nonexistent.
  • Lighter and Softer: arguably to most apocalypse stories, as most deaths of major characters are off-screen or ambiguous and there’s no Gorn.
  • 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. Since he is also infected, he kills himself as well.
  • Minimalist Cast: There's only about twenty characters who appear, about a quarter of them without any dialogue, and more than half of them with less than five minutes of screen time.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, Danny thinks Brian crossed this when he reveals that their parents weren't 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 hadn't completely collapsed yet. Some of the bodies weren't dead yet, but Brian buried them anyway, because he saw his supervisor pretending not to notice, so he pretended everything was fine too.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: The four main characters are perfectly willing to shoot innocent people for their gas, even though the world is almost entirely intact. The idea of finding bikes (or getting gas from abandoned cars) never comes up.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Bobby’s concern for Jodie gets her infected. Tom threatening his men not to keep the girls from leaving becomes this in retrospect, as [spoiler: due to bobby’s infection]]. they wouldn’t’ have anyway, and his actions cause his men to mutiny hold a gun on him, with it being unclear if they stand down after the group leaves.
  • Noodle Incident: the Baltimore vaccine, a previous failed Hope Spot.
  • 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 it's impossible to completely insulate yourself against the virus, no matter what precautions you take.
  • Papa Wolf: Frank is a fairly non-violent version of this.
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: its undercut by the general harshness of the scene, but Brian not abandoning Bobby until they’re near a town where she can find a bed, and giving her rations and an advice on what to do is as close to this as he comes in one of his harder moments.
  • Psycho Party Member: Brian. From the very first second he's on screen, he's the one who sticks to the rules the group has set to avoid infection the most religiously, and he has no problem threatening to hurt or kill anybody who gets in the way of the group surviving. He also left behind his own parents to die alone and lied to his brother that they were already dead because, in his opinion, there was nothing that could be done and staying would just risk them getting infected.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: despite his flaws, Tom is this to the country club group, being willing to let the main characters go.
  • The Remnant: Hinted that the golf course group is this, when one of them tells Tom that this isn't the army anymore.
  • 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. Unfortunately, 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...
    • The golf resort is also this: completely isolated, empty, comfortable, with a kitchen full of food... and then it turns out that it was not only taken already by a more heavily-armed group of Crazy Survivalists, but one of the members of this group got infected somehow regardless of their own strict anti-infection protocols (while he was keeping guard of the resort, even) and died on the resort's pool, turning only-God-knows-how-much of the resort into a "poisoned well".
    • Turtle Beach zigzags this, seeming to be safe for the characters, but not as happy as most successful safe-zones.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Debatable on whether or not it's intentional, But this movie has A LOT of similarities too Stephen King's short story Night Surf
  • Suicide by Cop: Brian forces Danny to shoot him.
  • 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.
  • Uncertain Doom: Just about everyone last seen infected but alive, and Tom, after his men mutiny.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Bobby’s infection probably saved the brothers from being shot by Tom's men and Kate. from being kept as a sex slave.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Brian to Bobby upon discovering she’s infected. Brian himself gets quite a few from other characters.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Although all of the main cast agree to the 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.


How well does it match the trope?

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