Thursday, May 23, 2024

“INFESTED”

THE STORY – Passionate about exotic animals, Kaleb brings home a venomous spider, who then accidentally slips away. Soon, residents of the apartment building battle an army of deadly, rapidly reproducing spiders.

THE CAST – Théo Christine, Sofia Lesaffre, Jérôme Niel, Lisa Nyarko, Finnegan Oldfield & Marie-Philomène Nga

THE TEAM – Sébastien Vanicek (Director/Writer) & Florent Bernard (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 106 Minutes


Attention freaks: If you enjoy the sensation of being grossed out, icked out, or the general feeling of “yuck,” then “Infested” is the movie for you. Arachnophobes will likely have trouble even making it through the plot summary, but for those without a spider-based complex, this film will make you understand where they’re coming from. “Infested” is a nasty, creepy thrill ride.

The film is set in a low-income apartment complex, home to Kaleb (Théo Christine), a young man with grand aspirations beyond his unfortunate living situation. He makes a living by selling contraband sneakers and has a penchant for collecting creepy-crawly creatures. His bedroom is filled with reptiles and insects, which he has as much affection for as the average person does for a puppy. He comes into possession of a large rare spider, which he happily adds to his menagerie. However, the spider manages to escape its flimsy confines and quickly begins breeding. It’s not long before the apartment building is turned into one giant deadly spider colony, and Kaleb, along with his friends and family, must risk their lives to escape.

The eight-legged freaks who terrorize the tenants are truly the stuff of creepy crawly nightmares. These aren’t your ordinary spiders. Owing to some scientifically suspect reasoning that would fit perfectly in a 1950s B-movie, they’re able to jumpstart evolution and grow to enormous sizes. Just when it seems they’ve reached their ultimate final form, a newer, more enormous spider shows up. The constant escalation is wonderfully ludicrous and hilariously terrifying. And the execution of the spider scares is increasingly creative. The filmmakers get a lot of mileage out of some standard but effective jumpscares, but the more patient scenes are even better. One memorable moment involves a long hallway and a timer-based light; like so much of the movie, it manages to be both fun and painfully tense. It’s easily the best scene in the film.

As for our bipedal characters, the people who inhabit the apartment building are all portrayed by a talented ensemble with authenticity and appropriate fear. Christine is a fantastic leading man, and it’s impossible not to root for him. In fact, he’s so charming and sympathetic that it’s easy to forget or disregard the fact that all the film’s horrifying occurrences are explicitly Kaleb’s fault. The actors playing his fellow apartment dwellers are equally believable in their roles, which helps the audience feel the weight of every casualty. However, the film takes quite a while to get to the arachnid action, and what prefaces it is a series of scenes of the people in Kaleb’s life being increasingly awful to him. It’s obviously an integral part of the characters’ arcs to have them begin the film in one mindset and end it in another. Still, watching so many characters endlessly and cruelly antagonize Kaleb for a significant portion of the film is tiring.

While it may have a plot that sounds exploitative or schlocky, “Infested” is well executed on a technical level. The spiders are all solidly rendered and animated, with the illusion of their existence never breaking, even during the film’s more absurd scenes. The film is well-shot and features several ingenious camera movements. This keeps the movie from feeling repetitive despite being set in drab apartments and hallways that all look relatively similar. Much like the spiders themselves, the scares and stakes keep growing throughout the film, leading to a genuinely monstrous conclusion. “Infested” is a harrowing yet perversely enjoyable ride with a solid human story at its center.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - A creepy thrill ride that will terrify anyone, regardless of their level of arachnophobia. The scares are well-executed and endlessly fun.

THE BAD - Takes a long time to get the action going, and it fills that time with too many scenes of the characters being endlessly cruel to Kaleb.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>A creepy thrill ride that will terrify anyone, regardless of their level of arachnophobia. The scares are well-executed and endlessly fun. <br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Takes a long time to get the action going, and it fills that time with too many scenes of the characters being endlessly cruel to Kaleb.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"INFESTED"