Horror, 91 Minutes, 2009
I really adore classically staged monster movies. The kind where everyday people have to deal with giant things – worms, bugs, crocodiles, lemurs, etc. Whatever they are, they’re big and they’re nasty. Classics like “Tremors” [IMDB] or “Eight-legged Freaks” [IMDB] are just plain fun. The scares tend to be more of the shock than gore variety (although there’s a little of that as well) and generally things are more family friendly.
The point is, I’ve watched a lot of these movies looking for the good ones. Most suck. SyFy channel produces an average of about 65 per month and nearly all of them are complete shit. Yet I still watch because every once in a while you find a dime in the offal. This movie is that dime. Filmed on a shoe-string budget in the cheap-movie heaven of Bulgaria with a cast of unknowns and television actors it really has no right to be good. But somehow it’s very, very good.
Our monsters are a hive of giant bugs that land, put everybody for miles and miles around to sleep and then cocoon them for food. When our heroes wake up a few days later they’re able to escape, gather up a group of survivors and head for the (assumedto be safer) suburbs. Smartly, considering the budget, special effects are rationed but all are excellent. The filmmakers here have an excellent sense of how to mix practical effects with CGI and this significantly raises the overall quality of the movie.
Getting the best bang for its buck may mean fewer effects shots but the movie does an excellent job of filling the gaps with meaningful character development. Every one of the survivors is interesting and the pacing is excellent throughout. The script maintains this interest throughout while doing an excellent job of keeping things simple, understandable and focused.
The movie easily holds its own against much higher budget features. It’s a perfect “family movie night” flick (although not for the younger set). Fun, smart and, in all the best ways, easy. This movie has single-handedly renewed my faith in low-budget, direct-to-DVD features and become one of my favorite monster flicks.