Straight-to-DVD Corner with Tonn Slingdog: Infestation

This one came out in 2009. You know, olden times. I avoided the hell out of it because I had been burnt by one too many duller-than-hell SyFy Channel giant cartoon bug movies. But it was offered up on iTunes as a 99 cent rental, and I needed to take a plane ride, so I bit the bullet. I had such a good time with it, I got off the plane and immediately bought the DVD so I could see it on a larger screen. Days later, it still held up! Sure, the bugs CG looks like it was low budget stuff, but this is one of those movies that knows it is silly, and plays the comedy without camping it up (see Zombie Strippers) to the point of just plain annoying. This is in no small thanks to a very able cast led by Chris Marquette, who does a great John Cusack. Even the blonde bombshell that bares her phony boobs turns in a fun comedic performance. And of course you can always count on the man once known as Swamp Thing, Ray Wise. It’s a very funny movie, the jokes don’t drop dead on arrival like many of the big studio tongue-in-cheek genre pictures. And the characters are well realized, so you don’t get lost trying to keep up with the revolving ensemble and piling body count.

No, horror comedy isn’t for every taste, but if you like this sort of thing as I do, it’s really as good as it gets. It’s not an easy thing to do, but writer/director Kyle Rankin pulls it off beautifully. Instead of bad one-liners about the bugs the actors clearly can’t actually see, the comedy is born out of relationships as they develop through the action. Imagine that! So there is no laborious first-act where we “get to know” characters before they are dispatched in some gross-out death sequence. We actually root for them and learn about what kind of people they are through the action sequences themselves…and often actually care about them when they are dispatched in some gross-out death sequence! And without that first act you usually get with these type of things, that means the giant bugs show up right away! No waiting! That’s delivering on a marketing promise the way it should be. It’s a good time. And granted, there is no way that all the giant monster movies on SyFy could be this good, but wouldn’t be nice if they at least tried?

Anyway, thanks all you Infestation people. You made me smile. And cringe…in a good way.

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