It’s hard to become enthused about another blood and chuckle fest, the sheer quantity of these movies is enough to cause a coronary embolism. Many filmmakers are yet to realise that comedy is hard and horror is even harder, the combination of the two has to be intricately balanced and carefully crafted.
This is where Infestation comes in, a killer bug movie in a similar vein to Eight Legged Freaks and Kingdom of the Spiders, firmly situating itself within this increasingly bloated sub-genre of the comedy horror.
Infestation begins with Cooper (Christopher Marquette), a slacker idiot with a severe case of chronic ADR (on one occasion a phone neatly covers his mouth, further emphasising the shoddy voice recordings). With absolutely no warning he and his co-workers are assaulted with a piercing, sonic blast causing them to pass out. When Cooper awakes covered in a web like substance he is attacked by an oversized beetle, this is where the ‘mayhem’ begins as Cooper assembles a rag tag team of familiar archetypes and lingerie models. From here on the plot becomes unimportant in sense that it is barely there.
Our team of heroes bumble along spewing forth intolerable exposition like a jet of excrement from a burst sewer pipe. They leap into irrational bouts of anger without warning or explanation. Their back stories are delivered with all the emotional versatility of Keanu Reeves but with even less conviction, in this respect this movie makes Johnny Mnemonic look good.
It’s hard not to notice how woefully incompetent the camera work is. The film is shot almost entirely hand held which I suspect is a result of time and budget constraints, but this does not excuse the bizarre and erratic framing. One can only pity David Finfer (the editor behind both The Fugitive and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey) who must have had one hell of a job trying to piece together this smouldering turd of a film. Given the extremely low quality of the finished product one can only speculate how monumentally poor the discarded rushes must have been.
One of the film’s few saving graces is the inclusion of the ‘hybrid’ sub plot. When a character is stung by one of the giant beasties he or she will eventually transform into a half human, half insect freak zombie. Grotesque, spindly legs protrude from the victim’s sides and their teeth are replaced by a maelstrom of quivering fangs. This fantastically fun idea could have helped Infestation stand out within an already overcrowded sub-genre, but it is so criminally underused and poorly explained that it is ultimately and unfortunately superfluous.
As the film progresses it becomes obvious that all of Infestation’s sins can be attributed to one very simple problem…it’s rushed. The characters, the plot, the narrative, the direction, all of these things and more just seem ultimately hurried. This is a film that hasn’t been given the time or the care to gestate properly; it has broken out of its cocoon before it is ready leaving it somewhat haggard and ugly. It’s doubtful whether this movie was even story boarded, for if it had it probably would have worked a hell of a lot better.
There are certainly things to like about Infestation, the hybrids are undeniably cool, but elements such as this are too few and far between. Boring characters, wafer thin plotlines, peculiar editing and terrible camerawork ultimately bury any potential this film had developed. If you want a fun night in filled with giant bugs and vacuous models then I suggest you pick up copies of Starship Troopers, Them! and The Beginning of the End instead.