Infested (2024)

Director: Sébastien Vaniček

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Starring: Théo Christine, Finnegan Oldfield, Jérôme Niel, Sofia Lesaffre, Lisa Nyarko, Marie-Philomène Nga, Emmanuel Bonami ,Abdellah Moundy, Mahamadou Sangaré

Every now and then, cinema is host to a peculiar phenomenon where multiple films with a similar premise are released in close proximity. The latest example of this is an arachnophobe's worst nightmare as, along with Kiah-Roache Turner's theatrically released Stingthe Shudder release Infested also depicts an apartment block's residents besieged by creepy crawlies.

For his feature debut, co-writer/director Sébastien Vaniček opens with a desert-set sequence which pulls double duty, enticing viewers for what is to come while also establishing how an exotic spider ended up in France. As it turns out, it becomes illicitly for sale in the back room of a dodgy shop where it catches the eye of Kaleb (Théo Christine). He lives in a rundown apartment building, looking after the place and its residents while making money by selling sneakers.

Kaleb cares for an array of exotic animals in his bedroom with makeshift terrariums to keep them in high temperatures. Living with him is Manon (Lisa Nyarko), his sister who is fixing up their bathroom. With both of their electrics-based passions contributing to their rising costs, the pair are at odds over whether to sell their apartment or try raising enough money to buy it for themselves. While Kaleb is stuck in the past and does not wish to leave this place full of memories of their deceased mother, Manon is intent on moving forwards towards a future involving starting her own business.

Adapting a screenplay that he co-wrote with Florent Bernard, Vaniček ensures that viewers get a feel for the community that resides within the apartment block. As the plot traverses from calm everyday moments to unfathomable terror, these various characters effectively convey an unseen history, shared bonds, and genuine compassion for one-another. From the strained relationship between Kaleb and his old friend Jordy (Finnegan Oldfield), to the moments shared with less prominent figures, the well-crafted relationships are believable in how messy and heartfelt they are. This serves as the film's beating heart, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when the rapidly reproducing spiders result in hard-hitting losses.

When it comes to the creature feature element, the building tension is terrifically heightened by the unsettling use of the arachnids. As the scope of their terror becomes apparent across the running time, it is horrifying to see how inescapable this nightmare feels as the body count rises considerably. While hope is momentarily instilled by light becoming one of the few defenses for the residents, it also adds to a standout sequence involving a corridor with a faulty light switch. These established elements fantastically work together for a nerve-shredding sequence which makes the horror feel skin-crawlingly unending.

The circumstances leave residents isolated and alone, with a clear feeling that contacting the police was already considered hopeless before this arachnid invasion. Those feelings are justified across the feature, reflected in how the authorities act uncaring to the residents' pleas of help to instead allow for acceptable losses. It leaves viewers to truly feel for the community that was shattered due to dispassionate authority figures. All of this leaves Infested as an impressively creepy creature feature which grabs viewers by their hearts before breaking it courtesy of the arachnid terrors. On the basis of this, Vaniček's Evil Dead film looks to be phenomenal.

Infested is available on Shudder now