The good thing is even though this flick was picked up by the SyFy Channel for distribution, it wasn’t MADE by the SyFy Channel. Score one point to Infestation. The bad thing is it COULD’VE been made by the SyFy Channel. Take that point away. All the usual suspects are here: cheesy dialogue, pretty silly action, and a bizarre plot. But somehow writer-director Kyle Rankin makes this one pretty fun (up until the ending; more on this later). And let’s admit it; we watch these creature movies FOR the creatures. If they are passable and cool looking we’ll forgive other sins the movie commits. And surprisingly the creatures, giant beetle-like things, look pretty good. They look like a composite of both practical and CGI f/x, and the f/x team did a good job of making it look like the creatures were really attacking and killing the cast members. I think we can give that point back to the film.
The story follows our hero, Cooper (Chris Marquette who looks a little like a bloated John Cusack), a slacker who can’t hold down a job and who thinks life is a big joke. The movie opens with him about to get fired from yet another job when suddenly a loud, ear piercing noise comes out of nowhere and makes everyone in the entire city (and country??) black out. A few days later Cooper wakes up to find himself and everyone else in giant cocoons. He gets out, releases the others, and discovers that Volkswagen-sized beetle-like creatures are responsible. So the survivors set out to Cooper’s house because his dad (the always great Ray Wise) is an ex-soldier and survival nut who built a bomb shelter and stocked it full of supplies. It’s a bizarre plot that never offers an explanation about the huge beetles; they are apparently an alien race that just show up one day and that’s that. There’s also a few scenes of human beings that have been turned into some kind of odd human-spider hybrid creatures that are helping the invading beetles round up the humans. They are pretty creepy looking (at least to me since I fucking HATE spiders. Click here)!!
I also like that the characters aren’t so cookie-cutter-ish (is that a friggin’ word??) for this kinda flick. Cooper is kind of a douche and his love interest Sara, the ass-kicking college student (Brooke Nevin) comes of as a bitch, but they both end up being rather likable and you find yourself rooting for them. The whole flick plays like a 50’s creature feature and Rankin pulls it off by keeping the plot moving fast (he wastes no time in getting to the “infestation” … literally within the first 10 minutes), giving us some passable f/x, and keeping everything “light.” Rankin never takes this material seriously and doesn’t expect the viewer too either. Most of this film works pretty well as a horror-comedy (Cooper’s interactions with his dad are pretty funny), and the humor and horror are separated enough so one element doesn’t take away from the other. But unfortunately this flick fails in one important aspect; the ending.
What the hell was Rankin thinking with this ending? Our three surviving characters are walking on the street when one points to something in the distance. The other two look up and one says, “Whoa,” while the other says “Holy shit.” And then the screen goes blank. The end. Seriously? WTF??!!!? Is that a lame ass attempt to set up Infestation 2? It’s a shame because the ending turned an otherwise enjoyable, fun movie into something frustrating that leaves you feeling like you missed out on the punchline. Did they run out of money on the last day of shooting and couldn’t afford to show us what was off in the distance? I don’t think so. I think Rankin was trying to be clever. A swing and a big miss.
Besides the ending this is a pretty fun giant creature invasion movie that has some good laughs and some decent looking creatures (especially the human-insect hybrids). This is a fun one to throw on with some buddies and beer. I’m sure it’ll be on the SyFy Channel soon; keep your eyes open for it.
Director: Kyle Rankin (and writer)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer