THE SWARM (REVIEW)
Dir. Just Philippot
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
THE SWARM is a French language film that sees a single mother surviving by a thread due to seasons of drought and severe heat. Her business of a locust farm isn't doing so well as a result but she learns through accident that blood makes them thrive, sending her down a spiral of chaos.
If this film doesn't make your skin crawl, then nothing will. The sights of 1,000s of bugs enveloping the central characters is probably the most disturbing sight we'll see this year and even when they're not craving blood, they're still an unsettling sight in their droves.
Just Philippot's debut is an impressive feat. It balances the emotional turmoil of real life family drama; the single mom holding a business around two growing children, wanting life as well as success. As she learns the lust of the locusts, that slowly comes to fruition but the balance of the truth and enjoying life become too much. Every bone of strength in Virginie is felt and it's easy to be swept up in the downbeat life she's driven too and yet cherish the small moments of hope throughout he depravity of her actions. Suliane Brahim is a true powerhouse.
Where most movies of this subject would take it's subject and run with it, THE SWARM is much more subtle and eerie because of it. Every heartbeat and emotional turn hits hard and yet this is a horror film at heart and doesn't disappoint. The Cronenberg body horror as well as the real world implications of a swarm of vampiric bugs which never exceeds the family bubble but is no less terrifying for it. The use of hundreds of real insects adds to the horror in more ways than any CGI could, every movement to make your skin crawl, every sound to make you hide, these will make you think twice about walking into a pet store.
The film does suffer from a more hopeful ending, despite fighting against all the odds, a number of characters survive at the expense of others. It's not quite THE MIST, but there's a solution to the problem that is exuberated by an ill judged decision which will have you screaming at the screen, while the events that follow are truly terrifying, the human cost and emotion is taken away by a swift finale.