The combination of horror and comedy has been one of the premiere go to mash-ups over the past few decades. Some fail to deliver on any large scale, like Eight Legged Freaks, while others win over legions of fans and go on to be cult favorites. For good examples of the genre, look no further than Evil Dead II, Dead Alive, and the recent Shawn of the Dead. Now comes Infestation that seeks to tread similar ground. It does turn out to be an entertaining movie, but I doubt that it will gain the status of the combo-genres high water marks. I do suspect that it will gather a select group to itself while others will fail to see the point. I will ultimately fall towards to the former, although I doubt it will ever be my go to movie for horror comedy.
As the film opens, we catch up with Cooper (Christopher Marquette of Fanboys and Freddy vs. Jason) and he is running late for work. He runs into the office, quickly slips into his cubicle and immediately pretends to be on the phone as he gets word that the boss wants to see him. We all know how this goes, he goes in, tries to worm his way out and she fires him.
Now, this is where things begin to get interesting. You see, this opening bit is not really the story at all, but does a couple of things for us. First, it introduces us to out hero, Cooper, the one character we will be spending nearly every moment with. Second, it introduces him as something of a slacker who is not living up to his potential, thus giving us the arc of a young man finding his way and discovering purpose and meaning in his life. Yes, lofty goal for a B-movie, and quite a common one, but there it is.
The interesting moment comes just after the firing, you here a loud noise, Cooper and his now former boss grab their ears and crumple to floor as the screen goes black. Moments later, lights come up and you are in the office and everyone is covered in white webbing. One begins to move and Cooper emerges from it. Within moments he is attacked by a giant bug that is intent on rewebbing our hero. Fortunately, our slacker may be a little more resourceful than we initially thought.
Anyway, he rips the webbing off a few people and they wake up from their web-induced slumbers. They immediately try to figure out what is going on, find more bugs around outside and attempt to hash out a plan.
Honestly, there is not much more than that. I did not find Infestation to be particularly scary or particularly funny, but it is entertaining. There really is not all that much to it. The group swells and shrinks as people come and go and bug attacks happen, they move in a general path that makes cinematic sense, but there is not much in the way of development of plot or characters. If you want an explanation of where the bugs came from, you'd best look elsewhere. It is a truly anomalous situation. Sure, we do get to see Cooper discover an internal strength he didn't have at the beginning of the piece. However, it never really leads anywhere. In actuality, it sort of feels like a beginning, as if there is more to tell in this world.
It is a movie that has a direction, but it does not go all out for it. Why it fails to completely satisfy, I am not sure. It is sort of like Cooper at the start of the movie, it wants to have fun, it wants to offer a little excitement for a dull day, but does not want to try to hard to achieve it. I realize some of the reason may be budgetary, as this is definitely at the lower end of the pay scale, notable in the not quite convincing CG effects. Writer/director Kyle Rankin has some ideas, I just wish they were more fully realized. Yes, I know it feels derivative, but I still had fun with it.
The performances are generally decent. Chris Marquette is a likable presence, although I am not really sure he has the presence of a lead, at least not yet. Still, I find him to pull of the role decent enough. His work is bolstered when we run into Ray Wise as Ethan, Coopers father. Now here is a guy with a commanding presence. The rest of the cast is filled out by Brooke Nevin as the love interest Sara, Kinsey Packard as the high-heel sporting Cindy, Wesley Thompson as Albert, and E. Quincy Sloan as Hugo.
Bottomline. I suspect you already know whether or not this is going to be a movie for you. I enjoyed it well enough, it just isn't up to snuff with other films of this type. I think it does have some replay value, but it is limited, just like the scope.
The DVD and Blu-ray will be available in the UK on September 7, 2009 and on October 13, 2009 in the United States.