As part of my research for my upcoming book about the effect of insects on human history, I watch a lot of insect horror movies. I rationalize it by saying that these movies reflect the prevailing attitude in Hollywood toward the insect world. But really, I just like watching them.
(If you, too, are a fan of insect horror movies and would like some other film recommendations, you can search this blog under “reel bugs.”)
Today’s film review is the quite likeable “Infestation” (2009). It stars a bumbling ne’er do well named Cooper (Chris Marquette—who looks a little like a sedentary Keanu Reeves if you squint). No sooner does Cooper get fired from his job slaving in some sort of corporate office cubicle than a weird noise causes him to lapse into an unexplained coma. He wakes up swathed inside a sticky white cocoon, claws his way out and discovers the whole office—the whole town—possibly the whole world—has been similarly cocooned, and that the perpetrators are giant three foot bugs. There’s no explanation or set up—the bugs didn’t mutate because of a radioactive canister that rolled off the back of a truck and into a pond, or because of a science experiment gone bad, or any of those usual inciting incidents you see in movies of this sort. No, the giant bugs just show up. These mutant insects kind of resemble Eleodes beetles. Except that in real life, those types of beetles have fused wings and can’t fly. And these mutant bugs certainly can. Possibly I’m being too literal.
Anyway Cooper and a small group of other survivors team up to battle the flying, flesh-eating, and very angry bugs, in order to save the planet. Oh and also they have to battle the humans that have been stabbed in the lower back with the bugs’ stingers. Those victims have metamorphosed into hybrid homo-sapien/insect creatures sprouting spider legs, and these hybrids also like to feast on cocooned humans.
The movie has some funny dialogue, tongue-in-cheek horror moments, and cheesy but acceptable special effects. The main character and his love interest find the insects’ nest (which kind of resembles a locust mound or a paper wasp’s nest). There’s a pretty exciting scene where they’re in the lair of the queen bug, although when they roll around on the large white eggs she’s laid, it does conjure up the ball pit at a Chuck E Cheese.
The ending is weirdly abrupt and unresolved; possibly the director ran out of money and just had about a minute and a half to write the last line before they pulled the plug on his cameras. Or maybe there will be a sequel.