Review: ‘Infested’

A Spider Horror That Will Have You Second Guessing What’s Moving In The Shadows

Creature features can very easily slip into “B” movie territory without even trying and honestly, there’s really no shame in that. Growing up in the 80’s I’ve developed a bit of an affinity for the cheese and have been known from time to time to actively search it out. The trick though, is to create something that can captivate while scaring the ever-living shit out of you without ratcheting up the campiness. Sébastien Vaniček plans to deliver just that with Infested. This flick flew under my radar, but after seeing it racked up awards at Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival, I had high hopes.

We’ve all seen the little eight-legged roommates that share our domiciles. That quick-moving arachnid that lurks in the dark corners, watching you from a distance. Are they helpful little buddies that eat the pests, or are they plotting your demise? Who knows? I’ve always had a “live and let live” philosophy with the spiders in my house. That is, until Infested had me reevaluating my agreement with those little buggers. 

Kaleb (Théo Christine), a young entrepreneur with an affinity for exotic animals acquires a highly deadly spider from his local connection. After taking it back to his apartment, he creates a temporary home for it in a discarded shoe box. In true horror fashion, the spider promptly chews its way through the cardboard and disappears into the darkness. Before you know it, the entire apartment complex is overrun and police have trapped the residents inside, leaving them to fend for their lives against the rapidly reproducing hell spawn. 

At one point, Jordy (Finnegan Oldfield), the estranged childhood friend of Kaleb reads a definition of what they’re facing. “Sicariidae – egg laying females can multiply their size by 10x to fend off predators.” In layman’s terms, these things rapidly reproduce and the females get larger with every generation. The design for the spiders was familiar but amped up to the nth degree. The look, the movement, the clicks and chittering from the shadow are absolutely going to stay with me for a bit. Not much really needs to be said beyond that. This movie will make your skin crawl. It’ll have you squirming in your seat only to brush yourself off after the slightest touch. Vaniček successfully creates an environment that will get your heart racing and won’t give you the slightest bit of respite.

You would think that a movie like this would be just another run-of-the-mill creature-based horror but it’s not. Vaniček gets creative at times with the cinematography, adding another dimension to the horrors unfolding on the screen. There is one scene that stands out and still gives me chills. It involves a possible exit that lies at the end of a long hallway, completely covered in webs, with hundreds of large spiders. Oh, and did I mention the lights are timed and shut off after 60 seconds? I get the chills just thinking about that.  

The story was well executed. From the familial conflict Kaleb has with his sister over the handling of their mother’s apartment they inherited, to the pulse-pounding race to find an escape from the horde of poisonous spiders overwhelming and systematically picking off the residents. The performances by Christine and company had me on the edge of my seat, rooting for their survival. 

This film had everything I was looking for. The story had heart, it had panic inducing action, it had gore to a degree and It had an antagonist that will haunt my dreams for a very, very long time. There was only one complaint I had, If you can even call it that. The film was entirely in French and not being a native speaker the subtitles drew my attention away from the fantastic visuals on the screen. It’s really no big deal though. That just gave me an excuse to watch it again and again. 

Infested is available on Shudder now.  If you’re looking for a horror flick that will stick with you, do yourself a favor and check this one out.