infested (film 2023) ↑

infested (film 2023)

Warning: This post contains details and images that may disturb those with arachnophobia.

I never thought watching a horror movie about arthropods would lead me to have dreams about snakes instead 🤨, but that's exactly what happened after viewing Sébastien Vanicek's Infested last night.

The film wastes no time setting the scene. The story follows Kaleb, a young man passionate about exotic insects and arachnids, keeping many specimens in glass enclosures in his home. One day, he acquires an especially rare spider from North Africa.

During the opening credits, we see that this spider is far more aggressive than your average arachnid.

The spider doesn't take long to escape its container, and the infestation begins earnestly. This sequence effectively established the ominous tone and central threat. It called to mind classics of the genre like Alien and The Thing, where unseen dangers are smuggled aboard and inevitably wreak havoc.

infested (film 2023)

We also get quick glimpses into the lives of other residents in Kaleb's rundown apartment building, including his sister. However, the character development is fairly surface-level at this early stage. There seemed to be an attempt at social commentary here regarding inhabitants of lower-income housing. Still, it didn't quite flesh out in a fully satisfying way. But setting the scene for an eclectic cast trapped together was a decent setup for the ensuing tense moments. From there, Infested falls firmly into the isolation/contained horror I find most compelling.

My enjoyment increased exponentially once the spider threat ramped up. I appreciate that the film doesn't fall back on cheap jump scares or obvious gore, instead relying on slow-burn dread. Some of the creepy-crawly scenes were unnervingly effective. Finding webs or spiders in cramped spaces like showers started putting me on edge. Also disturbing were visuals of spiders swarming and bursting out of places, reminiscent of the chest-burster sequence from Alien.

infested (film 2023)

At its best, Infested succeeded in tapping into that primordial fear of spiders and using tight spaces and cluttered environments to maximum unsettling effect. It's a testament to the filmmaking that someone with my lack of severe arachnophobia still found it genuinely unsettling and suspenseful at points.

While certain script points could have been finessed, I admired Vanicek's willingness to focus primarily on atmosphere, characters, and authentic scares over convoluted exposition or needlessly complex symbolism. This kept things intense and streamlined. At a tight 100 minutes, there isn't a wasted moment as the threat steadily escalates towards a frantic conclusion.

infested (film 2023)

The Spider effects are also executed brilliantly on the technical front, making the spiders feel utterly realistic as they crawl, swarm, and scurry. Combined with the lived-in locations, suspending disbelief and fully immersing in this terrifying ordeal is easy. Even my wife, who has severe arachnophobia, commented on it.

Ultimately, Infested delivers a solid - if not entirely original - creature feature experience. The buildup of isolation and paranoia as spiders overrun an apartment building makes for some tense thrills. Great production values are elevated by utilitarian social commentary and character focus. While not breaking new ground, the flick satisfies as an atmospheric, creepy-crawly diversion guaranteed to give arachnophobes nightmares, or at least strange dreams like the snakes haunting me instead! For fans of creature features and psychological horror alike, Infested is worth checking out.