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Infestation (2009)

First Look Studios
DVD Released: 10/13/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/10/2009

In yesterday's review for Staunton Hill, I lambasted the movie for not being original. But, that wasn't the film's only sin. It took that lack of originality and did nothing with it. There are plenty of movies which aren't full of original ideas, but have the exuberance with which to impress the audience. Whether it be style over substance or just the fact that the film doesn't seem to know when to quite, these plucky movies can win over an audience. Infestation certainly isn't the greatest movie ever made, but it's not boring.

As Infestation opens, we meet Cooper (Christopher Marquette), a slack office worker who is being fired by his boss (Deborah Geffner). Suddenly, an ear-piercing sound fills the air and everyone collapses to the floor. Cooper wakes up days later to find himself and his co-workers cocooned. He works his way out of the cocoon and is immediately attacked by a beetle the size of a man. He is able to defeat the bug and leave the building, where he rescues Maureen's daughter, Sara (Brooke Nevin). This is also where Cooper learns that there are giant flying insects, as well as the beetles on the ground. Cooper and Sara make their way to a coffee shop, where they meet other survivors, including Cindy (Kinsey Packard), Albert (Wesley Thompson), and Hugo (E. Quincy Sloan). The various members try different tactics to escape and soon learn that the bugs are blind, but they quickly react to sound. Cooper's small group decides to head for Cindy's brother's house, and then on to home of Cooper's father. But, along the way, they learn that there is a nasty surprise in store for anyone who is stung by the creatures.

As noted above, Infestation isn't very original. It borrow elements from Starship Troopers, Kingdom of the Spiders, The Fly, the Blind Dead series, and any other giant bug movie. (The idea of the people waking up not knowing what has happened isn't that much different from the new TV show FlashForward...but which came first?) Once the movie gets going, story doesn't differ much from other apocalyptic movies, and some of it reminds me of The Stand...except with giant bugs. The only real surprise here is the result of being stung by a bug, and who becomes afflicted with this.

However, what the film lacks in originality, it makes up for in tenacity. The infestation begins at the 7 1/2 minute mark in the film. Now, I don't know about you, but I'll get behind any movie that gets up and going that quickly. While the movie never reaches what I would call break-neck speed (this simply isn't that kind of movie), there's no denying that it hits the ground running and is rarely boring. The movie contains the requisite scenes where the survivors argue and debate about what to do and where to go, but the film doesn't let these go on for too long. The only wrong turn comes when the group runs into a militia. The overall point of Infestation is the panic and confusion which would arise in this sort of situation and the film does a fairly good job of getting this across.

The biggest problem with Infestation is its uneven tone. This is the second feature film for writer/director Kyle Rankin. That name may not be familiar to you, but he (and Efram Potelle) was the winner of the second season of Project Greenlight. The resulting film was The Battle of Shaker Heights, which, according to what I've read, split viewers due to it odd mixture of drama and comedy. We get something similar with Infestation. Essentially, this is a straight-ahead horror/sci-fi film where we watch characters try to survive an insect invasion. However, there are some humorous moments as well, some of which border on camp. And every time that a bug explodes and covers someone with their innards, the moments are clearly being played for laughs. The bug violence and comedy just don't mix well at times in the movie. Oddly, the DVD art definitely makes this look like a comedy, or even a spoof, as it depicts Cooper holding a tennis racquet with which to fight the bugs. However, when a movie opens with cocooned individuals vomiting everywhere, you get the feeling that "comedy" may not be the right word.

Infestation requires a massive can of raid on DVD courtesy of First Look Studios. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The image is never too dark or too bright and the colors look very good. The image has a slightly "flat" look to it which gave it a low-budget feel, but otherwise the transfer was fine. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track offers a nice mix which takes advantage of the bug sound effects during key scenes. We get nice usage of bug sounds coming from the front stereo channels, as well as from the rear. The musical cues also filled the rear speakers at times. The subwoofer effects were somewhat weak.

The only extra on the Infestation DVD is an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Kyle Rankin. He speaks at length throughout the film, discussing the story, the actors, and what it was like to work in Bulgaria. This is a fairly frank chat, as Rankin isn't afraid to point out shots or ideas that he's not happy with. Interestingly, he refers to DVD extras which aren't found on this release.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long