or Chris vs. Vicious Bugs From Outer Space

….. by TeeJay

The Plot

Our hero, Cooper, awakes to find himself nauseous, weak and covered in webbing, hanging from the ceiling of an office where, just minutes ago, he started his new job. As he struggles out of his slimy prison he comes face to face with his opponent – a grotesque, powerful and very angry bug. All 3 ft of it.

And so begins a hideous, nail-biting, comedic, all-action adventure to find a safe haven while constantly outwitting an infestation of monstrous proportions. As Cooper embarks on his journey, he befriends a ragtag group of survivors including Sara, a feisty attractive female. Although the situation is dire, Cooper can’t help himself from trying to solve his dating problem while trying to save his life.

Will they make it to safety before they are picked off one by one? And what other surprises are in store for our group of unlikely heroes?

The Character

Cooper Flynn. He’s our action hero, fighting the alien bugs. Well, more like our unlikely hero. Cooper has an office job but doesn’t like it, so he doesn’t particularly care about whether his slacker behavior endangers keeping it. It is on the day of his being fired that alien bugs take over the city. And as Cooper is the first one to awaken after the invasion, the role of leader by default is suddenly thrust upon him.

We learn quite a lot about Cooper in the course of the movie. He’s not as shallow a personality as you might expect from a movie like this. Kyle Rankin took great care to add more depth to Cooper than you may think from just seeing the trailer. All in all, I guess you could say he’s an adorable scatterbrain who comes around when it matters.

The Review

Oh my God, I peed a little.

Don’t worry, that’s not me speaking. It’s a quote from Kyle Rankin’s horror comedy “Infestation” that I had the rare chance to see on the big screen at the German Fantasy Film Fest in Cologne at the end of August. Let me first clarify this: I didn’t pee, not even a little, but I did laugh and cheer and ooh and eww, along with the other odd two to three hundred people in the audience.

First of all, I have to admit that I went to see the movie first and foremost for one reason: Chris Marquette. Running a big fansite about him and also knowing him in person, I didn’t hesitate twice when I heard that the movie was gonna screen at the FFF. The day they opened pre-sale, I was there at the ticket booth to secure a ticket.

Of course Chris wasn’t the only reason I was pretty geeked up about the movie. Even before the trailer came out, I had watched Kyle Rankin’s “Hellholes” online, and I was pretty sure that Infestation would be right up my alley.

Infestation didn’t disappoint, quite on the contrary. I can honestly say that I haven’t had this much fun in a movie for a long time—and I go to the theater on a regular basis. Some of my enjoyment may have been influenced by the audience, who reacted appropriately in all the right places, some scenes even got applause and cheering. However, there is no doubt most of it was largely due to the excellent script, its cinematic implementation and the actors’ skill of bringing the characters to life.

Let’s talk about the story in a little more detail for a minute. It starts out with our unlikely hero Cooper, who doesn’t quite take his job as a telephone sales rep for herbal healthcare products very seriously. Just when he’s about to be fired, there is a sudden, loud screeching noise and then everything goes black. It is days later that Cooper awakes to find everyone in the office (himself included) stuck in thick, white webbing. The first living being he encounters after freeing himself of his sticky, organic prison is an ugly black bug, the size of a small bear. Reacting on pure survival instinct, Cooper successfully fends off the disagreeable creature.

He then awakens some of his colleagues and the somewhat odd group starts discussing their next course of action. The plan seems to be to seek out the house of Cooper’s father, which is equipped with a secure bomb shelter. On the way, they make several stops and several discoveries about their adversaries that will help them fight for their survival. Some members of the group also make discoveries about themselves that will have an impact on their future. But it’s not all great, some serious shit happens too. And in the end— No. I’m not gonna tell you.

What greatly surprised me was the quality of the script. From the trailer I figured that the movie was going to be a fun comedy with a fair bit of gore. The tone appeared to be light and funny, so what I expected was a film that would be amusing, witty, maybe a bit slapsticky with a portion of self-irony. It was all of that (and better), but I was positively surprised by the emotional moments and the underlying familial relationship substory that was interspersed throughout the movie. They gave it a lot more depth and kept it grounded.

Another positive surprise was the special effects. Maybe the trailer gave me the wrong impression, but I had expected for the bugs to be a lot more “trashy” (which, mind you, would have worked as well for this kind of horror comedy). As it is, I thought they looked real and believable, and not trashy at all. Well done, Mr. Potelle!

My only point of criticism is that I thought it stretched on a bit in the first third. Once the decision was made to go out there and get moving, the audience is eager to see what the group is going to encounter and doesn’t want to watch these guys preparing for a night in the office building, though admittedly those scenes had a fair share of jokes and amusing moments.

As for Mr. Marquette, I am also full of praise. Chris’s first lead role in a feature movie, and he did the job wonderfully and with great skill and passion. From movies such as The Girl Next Door and Just Friends we knew he had great comedic talent and timing—which thrived in Infestation. His facetious and funny lines had just the right tone, his expressions were priceless. Chris’s portrayal of the character got a lot of laughs from the audience. On the other hand, the emotional moments were very powerful and made me root for Cooper, even if in the next moment a quip from his lips would have me laugh out loud. Makes me contemplate what an injustice it is that such talent often goes unrecognized in the big, bad world of Hollywood when other, rather mediocre actors are pushed and hyped.

I must also mention the rest of the cast, which was wonderful as well. Not one of the characters felt out of place or not real. Brooke Nevin and Chris had great chemistry and Ray Wise played a wonderfully callous dad. “Let me tell you a little story… You’re an idiot!” Diane Gaeta will get an honorary mention. It was great to see her as so-called “White Trash Girl”, bossing Cooper around.

I said earlier I wasn’t gonna tell you how the movie ends. And I’m not, but there is no way I cannot mention the ending. Kyle Rankin, you are a torturer of movie viewers! But I have to say, it was a pretty cool way to conclude the story. Can we hope for a sequel?

Last but not least, I would like to say thank you to everyone involved in creating something that was such a joy to behold on the big screen, it really made my day (and more). A big thanks also to everyone who is responsible for it screening at the FFF all over Germany. Thanks, Mr. Rankin, for keeping in touch. And thanks, Mr. Marquette, for being awesome, as always.

The Trivia

What’s kinda funny is that when we asked Chris in October ’06 if he could play any role, what he’d choose, he said this among other things: “And, like, a superhero. Yeah, yeah, I’d like to play a superhero too.” Looks like Cooper will be a bit of a superhero in this movie, so there you go, Chris.

Before the film started shooting, Kyle Rankin told us that he was really excited to be working with Chris. Chris was equally excited to shoot this movie, since he thought the script was great.

In July 2007 Kyle Rankin told us that shooting wrapped just recently and the movie was going into post-production. To quote Kyle: “I’m VERY happy with what’s ‘in the can,’ and couldn’t be more thrilled with the work a certain Mr. Marquette did. He’s a joy to work with.” Aren’t we glad to hear that? Thanks for sharing, Kyle!

The Links

….. Pictures from the movie
….. Vidcaps from the movie
….. Discussion about the movie on the message board