Infested (Vermines)


You Interested in Animals?

Main Cast: Theo Christine, Lisa Nyarko

Director: Sebastien Vanicek

Sometimes you watch a movie alone and you think, “Man, I’m glad my wife isn’t here for this one.”  I showed her the trailer a few weeks ago, excited to watch this one because it looked CREEEEEEEEPY, and her immediate response was, “Nope.  You can watch that alone.”

So I did.  And I was glad she wasn’t here.  Some movies just aren’t meant for everyone.

Case in point, the 2023 French movie (yes, it’s subtitled) from Florent Bernard (screenplay) and Sebastien Vanicek (screenplay and director), INFESTED. This story is set in a low-income housing project and centers around Kaleb (Theo Christine, GRAN TURISMO), an up-and-coming entrepreneur whose new gig is selling shoes.  He’s also got a weird hobby: Kaleb collects animals.  But not dogs or cats, Kaleb collects frogs, grasshoppers, cockroaches, scorpions, and his newest purchase, a spider.

Bernard and Vanicek do an excellent job of setting up the world Kaleb lives in.  We immediately meet his sister, Manon (Lisa Nyarko, LE VIDE), and come to understand the tension between them.  Their mother’s recently died, and Manon wants to renovate their apartment so they can sell it.  Kaleb, meanwhile, wants to hold onto those memories and cherish the world and the people around him.  He has no intention of leaving the building or the family of friends and neighbors who have been there for him all his life.

We meet his surrogate mother Claudia, his best mate and business partner Mathys (Jerome Niel, MEET THE LEROYS).  We meet Toumani, one of his neighbors and first customer.  We meet ex-best friend Jordy (Finnegan Oldfield, FINAL CUT), and his girlfriend Lila (Sofia Lesaffre, Ganglands), who’ve stopped by the apartment to help Manon work on the bathroom.  It’s not a great life, but it’s a full one, and Kaleb is at its center.

And then there’s the spider he just bought.  I don’t know what breed it’s supposed to be in story (the opening scene shows a trio of Arab men collecting spiders in the desert), but according to the IMDb trivia, 200 giant huntsman spiders were used during the production and if you don’t know what those are, do a Google image search, I dare you.  No thank you!

Kaleb’s spider chewed through the shoe box he was put it in and escaped into the building.  And then it bred.  And bred.  And bred some more.  And then it started to grow.  Again, giant huntsman spiders.

INFESTED then becomes a story about survival.  It’s a zombie movie set inside a closed location (after the first death, the building is quarantined and no one is allowed to leave), with the zombies replaced by, again, GIANT HUNTSMAN SPIDERS.

So glad my wife wasn’t here for this one.

Me personally, I.  Hate.  Bugs.  But spiders … I’m not a HUGE fan, but when we find them in the house—and there seem to be PLENTY of them in our house at all times—I’m the one to come in and kills them no problem.  But at the halfway point on this movie, I paused to put away the dinner leftovers and load the dishwasher and was none too happy about my bare feet being that close to the area under the sink while I’m all alone.

I was right: INFESTED is Cuh-REEEEEEEEEPY.  If you have ANY aversion to bugs or spiders or things crawling on you, avoid this movie like the plague.  Granted, doing so will deprive you of an excellent movie watching experience.

I REALLY dug this movie. The characters were fully developed, as was the world inside the apartment building, the relationships, the histories. This is a real world the characters live in.  And now they’re being attacked on all sides by the biggest, scariest damn spiders I’ve ever seen on film.  I love it when a movie is so effective and produces such a visceral reaction from the viewer.  If you love horror movies, but it’s been a long time since anything has really gotten to you, see INFESTED and tell me it doesn’t make you want to stay up all night with the lights on and the house deadly quiet just in case you hear something clicking in the walls!

While the acting throughout was good, the star of this one is easily Theo Christine who looked so much like a guy I work with I couldn’t focus for parts of the movie because I was distracted by the resemblance.  He gives his character heart in every scene and makes you believe in this world.  The actor really disappears and brings Kaleb to life.

The effects were outstanding and I’m gonna keep telling myself that it was effects and NOT a spider the size of small compact car on screen.  I didn’t see thousands of spiders scurrying all over the apartment, it was CGI.  No, that thing I saw emerging from the corpse’s mouth was animatronic and NOT a killer spider.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Let’s be honest, 90% of horror movies leave most viewers with an experience they’ll remember for a while after, but for the most part it’s really just a memory of, “Oh yeah, I saw that.  It was pretty good” or, “That sucked.”  It’s the rare movie that truly sticks with you afterward, but INFESTED is one of those.  I highly recommend it, even and ESPECIALLY if bugs and crawling things make you squirm.  That’s what good horror is supposed to do, and this one comes through HUGE.

If I had to find a con here, it would be that I felt it ran a little long, and the third act was a little bloated.  Other than that, I loved this movie.

INFESTED is currently streaming on Shudder.

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