A fun, gruesome mutant bug movie with engagingly retro monster/gore effects and a nice line in quirky character comedy. Amiable slacker Paul (Matt O’Leary) is working for caterer Julia (Jessica Cook), mostly because he’d like to go out with her, and serving drinks and snacks at a swank party on the estate of mad old dowager Mrs Perch (Eve Slatner). A weird touch is provided by Sydney (Clifton Collins Jr), Mrs Perch’s slightly hunchbacked and not-quite-there son, but msot of the guests are local bigwigs, including the glad-handing Mayor (reliable Lance Henriksen). The estate, for reasons screenwriter Adam Aresty never feels a need to go into, is home to a bizarre strain of wasp, whose deadly stings cause giant bugs to incubate inside victims and explode bloodily from their bodies (with disembodied heads stuck to their feet) to ravage the countryside. There’s not much more plot than that, with a certain Poseidon Adventure/Towering Inferno vibe as the well-heeled, selfish, caricature guests begin tearing at one another in futile attempts to survive while the higher-billed characters – including a hispanic housekeeper (Cecilia Pillado) – get indoors and hide in the wine cellar as the house is besieged. Naturally, Paul gets to show his heroism to Julia, and most of the others become bugs or get munched on … Sydney uniquely incubates a wasp whose head sprouts from his hump and becomes a two-headed menace, adding a more or less human face to the threat. It’s in the spirit of bug-busters like The Nest, Ticks or Infestation rather than David Cronenberg’s loftier, more philosophical The Fly (or even The Hellstrom Chronicle and Phase IV) but the nicely demented performances (Collins Jr enjoys himself in a non-typecast creep role) and debuting director Benni Diez, an effects specialist whose credits include Melancholia, handles the very physical monsters well. A witty coda features quite a bit of cow carnage. A German film, made in English, this compares very favourably with the more CGI-happy, less winning efforts of the SyFy Channel.
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