Infested (2024) – Shudder Original Review

    Dropping this month on Shudder is Infested, the first feature film from French director Sébastien Vaniček. Earlier this year it came out that Vaniček had been signed on to work on a spinoff to the terrifying Evil Dead franchise, and his work here is looking very promising for an excellent entry into the classic horror series. Here is our spoiler-free review of the creepy crawly film distributed by the horror streaming service Shudder.

    Infested kicks off with the main character Kaleb (Théo Christine), finding an exotic, highly venomous, spider in a shop and bringing it home. The deadly spider escapes from the very loose confines of the shoe box Kaleb decides to store it in. Shocking, I know. It then rapidly weaves a rampant and deadly web through his apartment complex. Kaleb, his sister Manon (Lisa Nyarko) and his friends have to fight for their lives to escape. This high-tension entry to Shudder’s extensive film catalogue is packed to the brim with fast-paced scenes, well-written characters, and LOTS of spiders.

    INFESTED – Still 5

    Ruthless Flesh-Eating Spiders

    While Infested does feature a relatively boring opening kill, the following kills are gruesome and severely unpleasant. Vanicek has a knack for good kill scenes in this movie. We’re excited to see where he takes this talent in future projects, especially this Evil Dead spinoff movie.

    The film also does not waste much time getting into the action. The viewer is full force into the arachnid chaos at around the 30-minute mark. This is when Kaleb’s new exotic spider, which he names Rhianna, escapes from the flimsy shoe box he tries to contain her in. Despite being very fast-paced, the plot is not at all hard to follow.

    Utilising a very fast-paced storytelling structure benefits the film’s more stress-inducing aspects. It feels like any of the characters introduced could be killed off at any moment. This tension kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire length. Not knowing where the film would turn next was very enjoyable, especially in the current climate of horror films.

    INFESTED – Still 8

    Arachnid Fighting Fixes Friendships

    One of the film’s strongest aspects is how it perfectly introduces the viewer to the very tense intercharacter relationships. These relationships are the primary plot focus, apart from the human-eating spiders. Performances by all of the cast, especially Sofia Lesaffre, who plays Lila, were amazing and, in some scenes, truly harrowing. Alongside the well-written relationships, the cast performances helped to solidify this film as a strong entry into the horror genre.

    The development of Kaleb’s relationship with his friends and his sister throughout the movie is truly touching. Infested makes great use of foreshadowing to subtly build these relationships and backstories right from the start of the movie. These small hints about these characters’ shared history help to create an emotional and well-written overarching storyline for the group.

    INFESTED – Still 7

    Skin-Crawling World Building

    The sound design in Infested is also excellently done. This movie genuinely makes it sound like spiders are moving all around you. It’s clear that a lot of work went into the sound design for this film and it really pays off. The strong sound design here helps create a truly eerie and skin-crawling atmosphere.

    Whilst this film boasts some very nice visual effects, I wish it leaned less on computer-generated effects. Modern horror films have been moving away from practical effects, such as Five Nights of Freddies, which sometimes takes the quality away from them. Whilst I appreciate that it would be hard to not use computer-generated effects, they do ruin the realism in some places. This break of realism does take the horror out for some viewers. Realism is very important to consider for this type of movie as it is grounded in the real horror of spiders.

    INFESTED – Still 5

    New Faces On The Horror Scene

    Recently, we’ve been seeing varying levels of quality in horror films that bigger companies are putting out. Previously smaller distributors like Shudder have been gaining much more traction in the mainstream community. Especially with the recent release of Late Night With The Devil, which is one of the best horror’s we’ve seen this year. It’s nice to see Shudder gaining some mainstream media recognition. The catalogue of original movies they have been building up looks stacked recently.

    Overall, Infested is a solid horror film that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave your skin crawling. Amazing cast performances, sound design and character writing help to make this feature-length debut from Sébastien Vaniček a fine addition to your watchlist.

    Infested is being distributed by streaming service Shudder in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. The movie will be released on the streaming platform on Friday, April 26th.

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