Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Wicked Web: Infested (2024) Review

Director: Sébastien Vanicek

Notable Cast: Théo Christine, Sofia Lesaffre, Finnegan Oldfield, Jérôme Niel, Lisa Nyarko, Marie-Philomène Nga, Emmanuel Bonami, Abdellah Moundy, Mahamadou Sangare, Xing Xing Cheng


If you don’t like spiders, you should skip this one. Regardless, it would be best if you were warned that this is one of the best creepy-crawly films I’ve ever seen. Sébastien Vanicek makes his feature film directorial debut with Infested (Vermines in the original French) with a shiver-inducing tour de force that will leave audiences itching and staring into the dark spaces of their homes for years to come. After the success of his debut, Vanicek has been tapped to direct the next Evil Dead film, showing a meteoric trajectory for this young terrifier.


Kaleb (Théo Christine, Play 2019, Gran Turismo 2023) struggles to make ends meet and find meaning in his gritty urban life in Paris. After his mother's death, he and his sister Lila (Sofia Lesaffre, Lila Ganglands 2021, Les Misérables 2019) struggle to manage their meager inheritance, which Kaleb looks to subsidize by fencing shoes of questionable sourcing and pursue his lifelong dream of opening a reptile and insect zoo.


Things take a turn for the worst when he buys a new species of spider that becomes the movie's antagonist. Gradually, the infestation grows throughout the apartment building, with stop-gap measures of insecticide spray, duct tape, and aggressive newspaper swats falling laughably short.


Friends Mathys (Jérôme Niel, Lost Bullet 2: Back for More), Manon (Lisa Nyarko, feature debut), and Jordy (Finnegan Oldfield, Nocturama, 2016) accompany Kaleb and Lila through a web (see what I did there?) of troubles as they struggle to survive in an increasingly hostile environment. With measured and panicked performances, this cast does something very difficult for a subject matter so gruesome; They make you care about these characters, which is equally endearing as it is frustrating, given the heart-pumping hunt on screen.


As brutal as it is clever, Infested delivers a lingering metaphor for poverty and the struggles facing urban development and stability. With a lack of resources at their disposal and (at times) directly opposed to government “aid,” Infested paints a bleak narrative of what it is to be poor in 2024, as poverty created the circumstances for the infestation to begin, let alone thrive in this Paris l’immobilier.


The cinematography team creates a gut-churning perspective of the attacks, utilizing visual storytelling with elements that have been foreshadowed masterfully from the beginning. This film would not work without incredible editing, visual and audio effects, and an eerily realistic set design that makes viewers feel like they are amid the webs with the victims. Regarding creature features, I can’t think of a more impressive film.


These spiders are some of the most terrifying bugs I’ve ever seen in film and are sure to leave even the most stalwart spider killer cringing. Utilizing more traditional zombie themes in a new web-spinning vehicle creates a familiar and novel horror, with thrills, gore, and surprising amounts of character development and emotional depth.


Let me reiterate: This flick is not for the faint of heart, and anyone with aversions to bugs, gore, or being eaten should stay far away. For the rest of us, we’ll keep a can of raid within arm’s reach at all times.


Written By Alex Gerrish

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