Original title:Vermines
Director:Sébastien Vaniček
Running time:105 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
Kaleb is a young adult who lives on petty jobs. Fascinated by exotic animals, he finds a poisonous spider in a bazaar and brings it back to his flat. It only takes a moment for it to escape and reproduce, turning the place into a dreadful web trap. At the same time, the police locks down the building where the residents are ambushed. Only option for Kaleb and his mates: find the way out, to survive.

Mulder's Review

Vermines arrives on the horror scene with a unique and intense vision of spidery terror. Directed by Sébastien Vaniček, this French feature unveils its horrors within the confines of a squalid apartment block, where the mundane rubs shoulders with the nightmarish as a venomous spider triggers an apocalyptic infestation. Vermines successfully blends breathtaking scares, well-rounded characters and insightful social commentary, making it a remarkable addition to the ever-expanding field of animated creature features.

At the heart of the story is Kaleb (Théo Christine), a young man living in a French suburb, struggling with personal demons and a passion for exotic animals. His impulsive decision to acquire a venomous spider named Rihanna triggers a series of harrowing events that quickly turn into a relentless and terrifying descent into arachnid-induced chaos.

One of the film's strengths lies in its well-developed characters. Kaleb's relationships, particularly with his sister (Lisa Nyarko) and friend Jordy (Finnegan Oldfield), add depth to the overall narrative. The script, written by Vaniček and Florent Bernard, invests time in establishing the community within the apartment building. The initial camaraderie sets the stage for the heartbreaking consequences that follow when the arachnids go on the rampage.

Théo Christine delivers a convincing performance as Kaleb, portraying a character torn between his personal struggles and the unintended consequences of his actions. The emotional depth injected into the story adds an unexpected layer to the horror, allowing the audience to sympathize with the characters' increasingly desperate plight.

The spiders themselves are a striking feature of Vermines. From the smallest, which bears an uncanny resemblance to a brown recluse, to the large, nightmarish creatures, the film skilfully avoids the pitfalls of unintentional humor. The harmonious blend of CGI and practical effects allows the spiders to convincingly inhabit the world and maintain a constant sense of dread. Cinematographer Alexandre Jamin captures the horror with well-crafted shots, heightening the tension throughout the film.

Vermines excels in maintaining a relentless pace, leaving little room for the audience to catch their breath. However, this speed comes at a price, with the narrative sometimes sacrificing the clarity of the rules governing the spider menace. While the film presents the unfolding events as a learning experience for the characters, a greater focus on exposition might have improved the overall understanding of what's at stake.

Comparisons with other horror films, such as [REC] and Attack The Block, highlight Infested's unique blend of scares and humanity. Sébastien Vaniček deftly navigates between horror and social commentary, creating a film that resonates as both a creature feature and a commentary on society's neglect. The film's relentless tension compensates for any minor missteps in its emotional beats.

Vermines is a remarkable entry into the creature feature sub-genre. Its commitment to terror, character development and unabashed exploration of arachnophobia make for a memorable, spine-chilling experience. Sébastien Vaniček showcases his directorial prowess, leaving audiences eager to discover what nightmares he may conjure up in future projects. As the spiders move across the screen, Vermines firmly establishes itself as a must-see horror film that promises to linger in its audience's nightmares long after the credits roll. We recommend that you don't miss it on Shudder when it's released.

Directed by Sébastien Vaniček
Produced by Harry Tordjman
Written by Sébastien Vaniček, Florent Bernard
Starring Théo Christine, Sofia Lesaffre, Jérôme Niel, Lisa Nyarko, Finnegan Oldfield, Marie-Philomène Nga, Ike Zacsongo-Joseph, Emmanuel Bonami
Music by Douglas Cavanna, Xavier Caux
Cinematography : Alex Jamin
Edited by Gordji Tehrani
Production companies : My Box Films
Distributed by Tandem (France)
Release date : December 27 2023 (France)
Running time : 105 minutes

Seen January 03, 2024 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 12seat  A19

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