I have always had a soft spot for bugs in film. Whether it’s cockroaches coming out of the bathroom sink in Creepshow, a woman putting her hand into a bug infested hole in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or big-ass creatures like in Starship Troopers, I lovea da bugs.
So it was a no-brainer that I would seek out the bug-of-the-month movie, Infestation. Written and directed by Kyle Rankin, who directed the Project Greenlight film, The Battle of Shaker Heights in 2003, Infestation has man against bugs in a winner take all death match.
Our hero, if you will, is Cooper (Chris Marquette), a smart ass slacker who when getting fired from his office job, encounters a loud audible shriek that puts him, his office, and the rest of the city as we find out, into some sort of deep sleep.
When Cooper awakens, he finds himself cocooned in some completely unrealistic fake spider-web material that you would find en masse in and around Halloween. As Cooper looks around his office, he notices that all his co-workers are cocooned as well, and he begins to free them from their cotton baton imprisonment.
That is, when he isn’t fighting the giant three-foot large beetle like creatures that are still in the office and put up a Mike Tyson type fight.
With enough office personnel freed so that the film could have enough central characters, the group tries to piece together not only what happened, but how they might survive in the world that now consists of large bugs, both of the crawling and the flying kind.
Cooper and his smart-ass quips find themselves venturing outside the workplace where things seem incredibly bleak. Flying bugs from the sky would swoop in and swap up an unexpecting human in the flash of an eye and survival against the swarm would seem unlikely.
There are a few things that assist the team in their attempts. They learn that the bugs can only sense their prey via noise. Stay quiet – stay alive. They also find out that the venom they use if both flammable and will put you to sleep if injected. But most importantly, they determine that if the bugs inject you in the spinal column, that you will eventually morph into a human/bug type creature that will turn you against your own species.
Infestation incorporates parts of horror, comedy, thriller and camp and does so rather effectively which comes as a bit of a surprise. Giant bugs when not granted the luxury of tens of millions of CGI dollars can make a thriller like Infestation look like a Saturday Night Live skit. But Rankin keeps things zipping. He keeps the humor on target and the action at a pace above PG-13 levels. When scenes like a flying insect grabbing a human and flying them to a red mist in the background sound hookey, he surrounds them with scenes such as someone breaking their leg jumping out of a moving vehicle (great scene) or a poor sap ricocheting off a building when being dropped by the flying insect (another memorable moment).
By the time we get introduced to the only recognizable face in the film, Ray Wise from television’s The Reaper and Twin Peaks, we are practically balanced with the humor, hoke and horror of the situation. Even when the pet dog shows up sporting spider legs, you don’t treat it like a Mystery Science Theatre moment, but rather consider it as darkish humor thrown into a scene of character urgency.
As we whittle down to the final chapters, we follow the surviving members of the troop as they travel to the hive in an attempt to thwart the further infestation of the city.
What could, and really should, have been another Monster Island, is instead a real fun film that takes itself seriously when necessary and then lets it’s guard down to help bridge what would be the solemn moments of situation explanation.
Infestation ends up being a fun and entertaining mix of comedy and violence (with a nice nude scene thrown in for the horror geeks). With a tagline of “Prepare for Global Swarming”, Infestation is the surprise film so far of 2010’s DVD release schedule. And with an ending that screams sequel, it only suggests more to come.