‘Infested’ Will Get Under Your Skin

Latest spider-based thriller delivers first-rate FX, meandering flight to freedom

Spiders are the new sharks.

Genre directors can’t get enough of the creepy crawlers. Can you blame them?

We’ve all been grossed out by larger-than-expected spiders sneaking into our bedrooms. They drop in like Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible,” dangling overhead on invisible strands.

“Infested” is never that demure. It delivers softball-sized spiders and the most intriguing hero we’ve seen in some time. Too bad the story’s third act doubles down on commentary, not scares.

Infested | Official Trailer | Shudder

Young, entrepreneurial Kaleb (Theo Christine) is hustling his way through life in his hardscrabble community. He’s calculating but sweet – consider the exotic pets he lovingly cares for in his cramped room.

He makes the mistake of adding a large spider to his collection. This is no ordinary arachnid, according to an unsettling prologue that sets the horrors in motion.

The critter escapes, multiplies and begins taking over Kaleb’s apartment building.

It’s up to Kaleb and his unlikely allies, including sister Manon (Lisa Nyarko) and local MMA fighter Mathys (Jerome Niel) to save as many people as possible.

“Infested” serves up some top-tier scenes, benefiting from outstanding special effects. Is this a perfect marriage of CGI and practical effects? Hard to tell, but there’s never a moment where you doubt these spiders are oh, so real.

Director Sebastien Vanicek maximizes our natural fears, including one killer scene in a bathroom. Try watching it without scratching your body for unseen bugs. Later, the building’s use of timer-based lights adds another can’t-miss way to keep us engaged.


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Vanicek isn’t just interested in scare tactics.

The run-down neighborhood is a character unto itself, part of France’s immigrant class where hope feels out of reach. We see that in the menagerie of characters pitted against the spiders, a melting pot of frustration and pain.

Kaleb and Manon recently lost their mother, another ache impacting the storyline.

Our heroes fear the police and the future, but it’s the former that matters as the story progresses. It’s hard to miss the social commentary afoot, but for much of the movie Vanicek and co. balance it beautifully with the genre trappings.

The third act reverses that approach.


The more the story vilifies the police, the less control Vanicek has over the scares. And, sadly, the less coherent his story becomes.

“Infested” is never dull, and once the spiders start taking over huge swathes of the building the tension takes over. Too bad the dialogue is so loud and screechy you’ll want to savor the scares with the sound off.

Yes, people are frightened, but do they have to scream their line readings?

Kaleb is our guiding light through the darkness. He’s no saint, but his compassion for his neighbors gives the film a blast of humanity. He won’t live down to the expectations of others. That’s especially true with a bigoted neighbor (Emmanuel Bonami) who keeps accusing Kaleb of drug peddling.

Some of the best horror movies benefit from social commentary, from “Get Out” to “Night of the Living Dead.” “Infested” feels the same for a while, but Vanicek’s direction gets muddled mid-film.

Where are our heroes going? The crucial sense of space that masters like James Cameron deliver is missing here. The final battle dispatches with any sense of realism, even by horror film standards.

As is, “Infested” is a solid entry in the growing SpiderVerse genre, a tale of heroism in the heart of darkness.

HiT or Miss: “Infested” stumbles toward its finale, but for much of the running time delivers precisely the spider thrills we seek.

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