Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


INFESTATION (2009). Director/writer: Kyle Rankin.

Office employees wake up one afternoon and find that they and everyone else in the city have been wrapped in cocoons by very large bugs, some of which skitter across the ground like giant roaches, and some of which soar through the air, occasionally picking up a victim and flying them back to their nest. The main problem with the movie is the typically flippant, let's-not-bother-to-explain-anything approach, which of course means that the main character is an equally flippant (though oddly likable) geek, Cooper (Chris Marquette), who is fired from his job almost as the movie begins. Marquette is an appealing actor, however, and makes Cooper more palatable than he has any right to be. The semi-serious approach means that what could have been an unrelentingly horrifying classic is instead rife with comedy relief [or at least situational humor] that is sometimes on the mark and sometimes not. [In any case, Infestation is nowhere as silly or awful as Eight-Legged Freaks.] The creepiest aspect of the story is the way that humans who have been stung by the monsters eventually turn into human-insect hybrids [see photo]. Ray Wise of Twin Peaks and Savannah is the only familiar face in the cast, but the acting is all very professional (and the characters more or less an interesting bunch), with everyone neatly doing the balancing act between horror and parody, but the film's insistence on not taking anything too seriously means that the dramatic possibilities are often muffed or avoided entirely. The thing that keeps the movie from the scrapheap is the special effects, which are excellent, a big surprise for a Syfy Channel Original. The bugs look disturbingly realistic, making the attack scenes that much more squirm-inducing. The climax in the huge nest of the creatures with the mother of all bugs is excellent.

Verdict: A more serious sequel would be welcome. ***.

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