By Dave Campbell | April 15, 2009
Director: Steven Kastrissios
Writer(s): Steven Kastrissios
Starring: Peter Marshall, Caroline Marohasy
The Horseman follows the story of Christian Forteski (Peter Marshall), and his path of revenge. Christian is completely devastated by learning that his one and only daughter has been found dead of an overdose. He then falls to pieces when he suspiciously receives an anonymous videotape in the mail showing his dazed, strung out daughter having staged sex with several men. Feeling responsible for what has happened and consumed by grief, Christian quickly converts his sadness to rage in an accomplished agenda to track down, torture, and exterminate anyone connected to the tape and his daughter’s death.
Christian’s violent path takes him through rural Queensland, Australia as he uncovers each layer of a drug and sex crime circle. Along the way Christian picks up a troubled runaway teen named Alice (Caroline Marohasy). An unlikely bond forms as Christian’s paternal instincts give him new hope in preventing the same thing from becoming of Alice. As Christian inches closer to the ones directly responsible for his daughter’s death, the details grow darker and the savagery becomes greater.
I was lucky enough to be in attendance of this film for a special Fantastic Fest midnight screening at SXSW in March 2009. The Horseman is the first feature film from Aussie director, writer, producer, and editor Steven Kastrissios, who was on hand all the way from Australia to present the film and provide a Q&A following the screening.
The Horseman is an independent diamond in the rough, representing the quality film making that any indie film fan longs to discover. You forget you are watching a film without distribution as stylistic qualities in likeness of Tony Scott and Alex Proyas make their way to the screen. What ever Kastrissios lacked in studio backing he made up for in delivering a solid well crafted film filled with compelling performances and humanistic sensibilities.
During the Q&A Kastrissios pointed out that the original cut came in at 2 1/2 hours, making it nearly an hour longer than the film as it now stands. The omitted scenes explored further character development he felt slowed the story. The style and inspiration of The Horseman seem to pay homage to past revenge films such as Mad Max, The Limey, and The Crow which were also pointed out as direct influences by Kastrissios.
Peter Marshall delivers a performance of award winning caliber as Christian Forteski with new comer Caroline Marohasy making a respectable feature debut as Alice. Their relationship in the film helps to drive the humanity and emotions needed to balance the sheer anger emanating from Christian. The fight scenes are painfully violent, dirty, and realistic – lacking the over choreographed feel that all too many Hollywood movies possess. Characters are not as developed in this film as one might desire, but the straight forward pacing action and drive to the story allow you to almost completely forgive this with each blood letting pay back.
Since my viewing of the film, world wide rights to The Horseman have been acquired by Los Angeles based Media 8 Entertainment who produced and distributed the Academy Award-winning Monster starring Charlize Theron.