A tardy gloss on The Hidden, which wasn’t the most blindingly original concept in the first place – though body-hopping psychopathic bug-parasites are, as ever, value for money.
After a fragmentary historical prologue involving a 19th Century New Englander sprouting tentacles and being chained up by a mob to attract lightning, the story kicks off in modern times with the old church burning down. Something evil (aka ‘the Scourge’) escapes from the cellar where it was walled up to latch onto a fireman, who gets very hungry (and is a messy eater) then lurches across town to a hockey stadium where he wanders across the pitch during a match in order to make out with the cheating girlfriend (Marina Pasqua) of the misunderstood hero. The fireman is emptied out and an insectile creature burrows into the girl, who picks up a guy in a bar, who gets shot down while rampaging in the mall (his jaw is pulled off) and passes the bug to a paramedic who is also a skateboard whizz who infects a taunting skater girl (Frankie Nash) who (offscreen) hooks up with a badass biker dude (Russ Ball) who happens to be sharing a jail cell with the hero (he’s been taking the blame since the Sheriff hates him) and is about to latch onto him when the nasty Sheriff shows up to get possessed and make things worse.
Scott Miller (Nic Rhind) is a ‘troubled’ young man, who did jail time so his criminal father wouldn’t do a much longer stretch, but is fundamentally decent enough to be worthy of Jesse (Robin Ledoux), the niece of the nasty (and, as it turns out, crooked) Sheriff Durst (Russell Ferrier). Scott and Jesse hare around town after the string of rampaging hosts, looking up the odd historical record and working out the creature’s life-cycle and weakness (if lightning worked, so will a taser, and the parasite hates alcohol so stays away from drunks) but disbelieved by anyone who could help – until those people get possessed too. A secret church body which has been hunting these creatures – it’s not certain whether they’re demonic or alien – sends a one-eyed guy with a natty identification ring to take custody of the creature after it’s caught by being shocked, grabbed with pincers and dumped in a jar of booze.
The script is just functional, the cast doesn’t even stretch to anyone on the level of Lance Henriksen or Tobin Bell, the effects are reasonable in small doses, the business with the hero and the Sheriff is the umpteenth lift from The Blob and there are few surprises along the chain of this la ronde of gruesomeness, but it’s reasonably well-paced and rattles through acceptably. It’s better, for instance, than The Hidden II. Written and directed by Jonas Quastel (The Untold).