Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Millennium Bug (2011)

As a family (the father played by Jon Briddell, the daughter played by Christine Haeberman and the stepmother played by Jessica Simons) head out into the middle of nowhere to relax and ensure that they avoid any chaos caused by Y2K - yes, the movie is set on December 31st, 1999 - then it becomes pretty obvious where this movie is going. Anyone going to an isolated location to enjoy some peace and tranquility will almost inevitably meet up with a disfigured and demented family when residing in horrorland. Unsurprisingly, that's exactly what happens here. But there's more to it. The Millennium Bug of the title isn't just referring to Y2K, as one particular cryptozoologist (Ken MacFarlane) knows.

Yes, this is part killer redneck movie and part killer bug movie and after an unsteady start it soon gets to its feet and runs headlong towards a finale as blood-soaked as it is non-CGI. Movies are getting a lot of love nowadays if they state that they're going back to just practical effects and when you see end results like those on display here . . . . . . . . it's hard not to wish that most movies would leave the computers switched off.

Written and directed by Kenneth Cran, The Millennium Bug is over the top and gory in a way that will remind many horror fans of the glory days of past horror. It throws plenty into the mix, but still keeps a good balance as the story strands weave together and move forward. People may, rightly, worry that this is yet another movie trying to replicate those low-budget, grimy exploitation movies of yesteryear, but they will be pleased to hear that it's not. Despite the extreme gore and the craziness of it all, it never feels as if it's deliberately setting out to be shocking or quirky because it's so brilliantly entertaining.

The cast aren't all exactly from the Daniel Day-Lewis school of acting, especially Briddell, Haeberman and Simons, but those playing the redneck family get to have more fun and set about the material with glee. John Charles Meyer becomes the "star" of the piece, but Trek Loneman is a lot of fun, as is Ginger Pullman (a beautiful woman, though you wouldn't know it from how she's made up here).  Adam  Brooks, Ben Seton and Sandi Steinberg are also entertaining. Ken MacFarlane falls somewhere in the middle, his acting isn't all that great, but he provides a lot of fun in the second half, playing the one person who sees beauty in the killer bug.

Horror fans can do a lot worse than check out this little gem. It's a bit rough in places and certainly has moments in the first third that will give you cause to doubt your choice, but when the madness begins it really does start to shine. And fans of practical effects will absolutely love it, it's a reminder of why we can put up with imperfections and mistakes when the material, and execution of it, has real heart.


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