A cataclysm has struck Planet Earth, where most of its population has been wiped out by a deadly disease, leaving the final few survivors to roam the landscape hoping to find food, fuel, and above all that they do not succumb. Across the barren Texan landscape drives a car, and inside are two brothers, Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Brian Green (Chris Pine), who have Brian's girlfriend Bobby (Piper Perabo) and her friend Kate (Emily VanCamp) accompanying them. With nothing better to do, they are heading to a location on the coast, where the siblings spent their childhood vacations...
Yet another film apparently designed to raise the sales of anti-bacterial handwash, Carriers was the brainchild of two Spanish brothers, David Pastor and Àlex Pastor, perhaps drawing on their relationship to depict the one between Danny and Brian here, though presumably they actually looked like brothers and not two actors playing them who were in no way related, as was the case on the screen. It was post-apocalypse time again, and thanks to some well-chosen locations out in the middle of nowhere they worked up a a neat atmosphere of desolation and some moodily stark imagery for the now-underpopulated world.
Of course, if you insist on making your film in the vast spaces between anywhere in particular then those areas are going to do a lot of the work for you in terms of concocting that lonely tone, but where this genre often preferred to go the empty city route, at least for part of their narratives, it was refreshing to see a movie which never even countenanced the idea of getting urban with their Armageddon, though obviously that also would have kept the budget down. A road movie essentially, Carriers took its small cast and picked them off one by one, though once you had the measure of it the story looked more like its own first chapter, that in spite of no sequel being forthcoming.
If anything, there could have been more depth to what we saw other than the expected soap opera theatrics, not that the film wasn't involving, it's just that it played out much as you'd expect once the premise had been established, no matter how far it went in trying to make us feel sadfaced for the massive loss the human race has suffered. Part of that in the opening half was with the father and young daughter the foursome meet on the highway, the latter having contracted the disease so not long for this world unless her dad is right and nearby there is a serum being used which could offer them all hope. But our heroes have rules about other people, and even accepting two more of them into their journey is problematic.
The bleak joke being when they begin to get infected themselves, or it could have been more a dejected irony. Later on, they encounter some military men who are all decked out in the finest anti-virus suits and masks (the masks the four wanderers sport don't look anywhere near effective enough for their purpose), which also introduces a tentative note of horror fiction to the sci-fi. Reddened corpses popping up where you least expect them, and the way that some are still alive so technically not corpses at all, contribute to the unavoidable macabre of being some of the last humans left alive, but it never really goes too far with that other than for a touch of suspense when it looks as if they will either be infected or fall victim to violent survivors (or in one case, a ravenous pet dog feasting on its dead owner). Acting was serviceable, but you rarely had the impression anyone was being pushed much by the material; nevertheless, it summed up a pointlessness to existing in such devastation quite well. Music by Peter Nashel.