I wanted to pick a special Father’s Day Netflix Streaming movie and decided to go with the stompy Ozzie revenge flick THE HORSEMAN! I should warn you upfront though that this movie is extremely violent. In fact, I even caught myself closing ONE of my eyes and in retrospect, I have no idea how I thought that might help. I’m also afraid that it does some skipping through the torture zone. I’m not a fan of on-screen torture myself. It’s almost always gratuitously sadistic and I just think it’s rude to tie somebody to a chair. A lot of people are tied to a lot of chairs in this movie. I really wish that characters that find themselves in that position would just hand over the requested information and not be so ornery and antagonistic for my sake. Sassing makes everything more difficult for all involved. Spill the beans, dummy.
Christian (I know, pointed name considering the film’s title right?) played by PETER MARSHALL (not the HOLLYWOOD SQUARES guy) is a dad who learns his daughter is dead. Her drugged-up, contaminated remains were just sort of dumped like trash by an anonymous person. His grief is thrown another whammy when he receives a VHS porn tape in the mail with his daughter featured in it, clearly out of her mind on drugs and being abused by a group of men. It’s pretty gross. Christian, who fittingly works in pest control, grabs a toolbox and hits the road on a rampage, inflicting retribution to all those involved. I’m not saying his way of going about things is right but I’m not totally against it either. Karma is always sitting down on the job so sometimes you have to give it a little push…with a crowbar.
What raises THE HORSEMAN above the standard comeuppance flick is its commitment to examining a man’s emotional pain in between skull cracking sessions. First time director STEVEN KASTRISSIOS displays real talent and thankfully he nabbed a superior actor to join him. MARSHALL is great in this and even if you find his actions questionable, you’ll never doubt the intensity of his mournful rage. Along his travels Christian encounters a lonely hitchhiker not unlike his daughter named Alice (CAROLINE MAROHASY) and their relationship allows for even more of his humanity to emerge. When Alice inadvertently (and perhaps unavoidably) gets tangled in Christian’s campaign of violence, a whole new level of discomfort for poor me is reached.
THE HORSEMAN is on the harsh side (I could have lived without the several instances of penis abuse) but I have to give it props nonetheless. I enjoy my violence a smidge more cartoon-y, but I do appreciate the film’s reluctance to simplify physical anguish and give the viewer an easy out. There are no easy ways out here. The point is clearly made that it is more than Christian’s ego that has been damaged and more than his pride that has been taken away. He let his daughter down and now he faces a tsunami of guilt that can’t be bashed away. I guess the truth is, most Dads fuck up. None can completely shield their children from the dangerous world. I picked this film to celebrate the dads that are THERE anyway, the ones that show up to make the mistakes. The ones that at least TRY to give their kids a better life than they had. Christian isn’t going to win any Father of the Year awards any time soon, but hey, he cares. That deserves at least a card or maybe a monogrammed crowbar.
NOTE: Happy Father’s Day to my dad who is in the hospital (don’t worry he is fine and will be out soon)! As far as I know he is not in the hospital for getting in fights with hooligans on my behalf but he is a super cool guy (imagine THE GREAT SANTINI crossed with Ted Baxter) anyway. Happy Father’s Day!