I started watching Infestation as a film to fall asleep to. Though it is not a great film, it was pretty decent and unusually for a clearly low budget film, they don’t shy away from showing the monsters. I imagine if we didn’t have the awesome Starship Troopers, there might have been more love for this bug movie. But it is quite generic, so maybe not. It does follow a lot of the clichés found in creature features, but with a surprising amount of charm.
Infestation follows Cooper, a wise-cracking office slacker who was just about to be fired from his latest job, when a shriek is heard, which causes everyone to pass out. Cooper wakes up days later to find himself and his colleagues feeling weak and cocooned in webs. Waking the others in the office building up, he and a group of survivors do all they can to protect one another from giant alien insects. But the danger goes far beyond just the office, with the whole world under threat from these killer bugs. They soon find out that the creatures are blind, but react to sound giving them some hope. However, the insects have a nasty surprise for anyone who gets bitten.
A pretty simple premise that has been done many times over, but this was a surprisingly entertaining movie. Infestation is definitely more of a comedy than a horror film. It reminds me of those old creature feature films such as Tremors, or the more modern Feast trilogy. What it lacks in great CGI, it makes up by having entertaining characters that are likeable and fun to watch. Not overly endowed with originality, it has the classic leading loser who becomes the hero and the romantic storyline that gets crammed into everything, but unusually, I was not put off or mad about these additions, as it added to its charm.
The problem with a lot of low budget creature features is that you often don’t see the monsters for half the film and when you do they are so underwhelming that it ruins the whole thing. Thankfully Infestation takes a different approach. We see the insects pretty much from the get-go, and they are pretty realistic looking. The insects aren’t meant to be scary (and there was no wasted effort trying to make them so), which is probably why this wasn’t a frustrating creature feature. They even ham up the effects with white blood that comes from the insects, that pretty much everyone in this film gets splattered with at one point or another. Thankfully, they don’t try to copy other monsters we know, side-stepping the issue of inferior copies that would just garner disappointment. Nevertheless, these monsters aren’t spectacular or original, but good enough for what Infestation is going for.
I would probably call Infestation a family movie, though obviously not for the youngest amongst us. It features a lot of family relationships, as a lot of the film has each character searching for someone in their family, hoping they are safe – only to be disappointed for the most part. But these inclusions make add a fuzzy warmth to this movie, rather than if it had just stuck with strangers fighting for survival. It does not offer any unique or insightful perspective about these family relationships, it is just a nice addition to the film.
This is probably why Infestation rises above a lot of the “tat” that we get with survival horrors, it does not try to be unique or special. It knows it is a B movie and fully embraces it. You can tell this from the film poster that was released, it is quite clear about what it is. And yes the characters are super clichéd but it leans into it, making it a part of the comedy. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have the moments, where a character does something stupid (as they do in most horrors) that forces the plot into action. But because the pace is fairly quick, there isn’t a lot of time to dwell on it.
However, don’t expect much explanation about the “why or how” of these insect invaders. There are no grand lofty ideas or overwrought theories. Infestation is about surviving against alien bugs, pure and simple, which I think is a good move. Too often the unveiling of the mystery ruins all the fun and there aren’t many ideas that haven’t been done several times over. Along that vein, the ending is left up the audience’s interpretation or imagination, which some may not like, but I preferred over some poorly thought out sequence that would most likely have hinted at a sequel of sorts.
Infestation is not a classic by any means, but it is a fun survival horror that you can waste your evening on.