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[Film Review]: Infested

3 young people stand in a row looking scared. The young man in the middle has bleach blonde hair and is screaming

Directed by Sébastien Vanicek, the French language horror Infested weaves its intricate web, entrapping viewers into its toxifying amalgamation of isolation horror á la The Evil Dead (1981-2023) and Rec (2007) with slasher style creature-features like Jaws (1975) and Alien (1979).

Opening on a group of men in an area of the Middle East, this group are on a mission to find and trap a breed of spider that they will export as an exotic pet. Yet, as one of the men is bitten and attacked, we soon learn that perhaps this isn’t the best idea they could have had. The film transports to France, where Kaleb (Théo Christine), an amateur collector of unusual animals, brings a spider home to his dilapidated apartment block, inhabited by a tight knit community of residents. Due to a temporary spider boarding mishap, the arachnid escapes, rapidly reproducing enlarged venomous offspring, leaving the bodies of the residents in its wake. As the local authorities enforce the apartment block into a non-escapable isolation, Kaleb and a group of his friends must attempt to fend off the bloodthirsty arthropods. 

Eschewing the usual stereotypical B-movie style of creature horror, Infested is a slick yet terrifying ordeal that through its setting of a rundown apartment block, with the inhabitants trapped inside because of authoritative orders, enhances its claustrophobic feeling of inevitable dread. The design of the spiders are incredibly realistic, with nods to the incredibly venomous real-life huntsman spider, as well as the use of actual arachnids, which only amps up the skin-crawl factor, even for those who are not at a predisposition to fear the eight legged creepy crawlies. 

The cast of characters throughout the film all add to the strength of Infested with none falling into any tropes both character development nor plot wise. Théo Christine is an incredible lead, conveying deft emotions throughout, even in quiet moments such as tending to his array of exotic roommates or dealing with his sister’s never ending DIY quest. The group of friends that includes Kaleb’s sister Manon (Lisa Nyarko), Mathys (Jerômé Niel), Jordy (Finnegan Oldfield) and Lila (Sofia Lessafre) are defiant in their stand against not only the immediate danger of the spiders, but also against the police authorities who have left them to fend for themselves against an indomitable foe.

Through the portrayal of nature biting back in an urban setting, Infested explores the themes of the treatment and portrayal of those who inhabit lower socio-economic classes within society and those who are from marginalised communities by the powers-that-be and the media, especially when it comes to situations like preventable tragedies or outbreaks. Despite the spiders being the obvious face-value villain, Infested cleverly turns its portrayal of those in a higher class of power into what it means to be the true antagonists. The spiders are just doing what comes naturally to them, yet it is the humans who abandon those in need at the most critical time, and when they do intervene, cause more trauma and damage than has already occurred. 

Infested is a must-see for fans of both nature gone wrong horror and those who enjoy single location isolation terrors, and just like Jaws caused shark and open water fear amongst audiences, Infested is bound to have viewers constantly checking their shoes and the dark corners of their own house for any eight legged beasties. Arachnophobes beware!

5 Screams out of 5.

Infested hits streaming service Shudder on Friday 26th April.


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