The Breed begins with a shaky foundation, asking us to believe that:
a) Hill Harper is 20-something.
b) Taryn Manning is a virgin.
c) Michelle Rodriguez is straight.
One thing that doesn’t stretch our imagination, though, is Hill Harper’s character, Noah, the epitome of the horror movie standard, “the black guy”. We’ve seen it all before — the neutered fifth wheel along for the ride with a pair or white couples, the shit-talking comic relief, the first to die — although usually he appears in lower-grade stuff than this slick high-end direct-to-video fare.
That it’s so freely flaunted in an otherwise well-made horror film like The Breed with a respectable star like Harper indicates just how hackneyed characterizations like this are an accepted part of the Hollywood system. Certainly, Noah isn’t a racially offensive role, but he’s a continuation of the decades-old tradition of disposable “black guys” and is definitely beneath Harper’s talent and experience — making you wonder why he took it in the first place [cue cash register sound effect].
There is a moment, though, in which The Breed almost distinguishes itself with a rare moment of clarity and self-awareness. As he and his fellow “20-somethings” hide in a cabin surrounded by genetically altered killer dogs, the lights go out. Noah volunteers to go check it out, and white hero Matt (Eric Lively) says, “I’ll come with you.”
“No, no, relax, relax,” Noah replies, sabotaging any attempts to save his doomed ass before plunging into a breakdown of each character: “Each of you has your little job. [To Matt] You’re the future doctor, smart and calm under pressure. [To John (Oliver Hudson)] You’re the Eagle Scout in black sheep’s clothing, quick with the weapon, handy with the sea plane. [To Nicki (Rodriguez)] You’re the perky, athletic one, very handy to have around. [To Sara (Manning)] And you; you look incredibly sexy in a bikini. Now, where does all that leave moi? I’m the one who knows where the fuse box is.”
DAMN! I thought he was gonna say it: “I’m the black guy.” Instead, he lets his actions speak for him, venturing into the basement ALONE and getting killed like a dumbass in what can dubiously be labeled a “heroic death.” So, he gets no nookie AND he dies first (perhaps a mercy kill, given the no nookie thing). Am I wrong, or is Hill Harper not a bigger name than either Oliver Hudson or Eric Lively, star of The Butterfly Effect 2? Somebody call Al Sharpton.