GORE IN THE STORE
MOSQUITO STATE ****
Directed by Filip Jan Rymsza.
Starring Beau Knapp, Charlotte Vega, Jack Kesy.
Horror, Poland & US, 100 minutes.
Streaming on Shudder from August 26th 2021.
Socially and physically awkward, Richard Boca works as a data analyst for a successful Wall Street firm. Completely different from his macho co-workers, Richard soon undergoes an even more startling metamorphosis after being bitten by a mosquito at a work party. Suffering through his strange transformation his vast apartment soon becomes infested with more of the strange mosquitoes and a bizarre bond is forged. While this is happening news headlines blare away on the television in the background with bulletins from the presidential primaries where Barack Obama is making a name for himself and the financial markets are experiencing volatility, a fact that Richard’s computer programme is picking up on, forecasting a massive financial crash.
This is an often-unsettling exercise in strangeness that combines the body horror imagery of David Cronenberg’s earlier films with the more cerebral psychological character studies of his more recent works. While the influence of the Canadian auteur is undeniable, director and co-writer Filip Jan Rymsza has crafted a film that feels wholly original, heralding what could be yet another exciting new voice in the horror genre. The film unwinds at a measured pace; while light on plot it manages to exert a grip on the viewer as Richard’s physical and psychological breakdown progresses in its own hypnotic fashion.
Beau Knapp, who may be familiar to audiences from his turn as a put upon heavy in THE NICE GUYS gives a performance that also impresses. A difficult character, quiet and insular, Knapp’s gangly physicality and stunted delivery of dialogue holds the viewers attention. As he evolves, his face distorting as he becomes one with the ever-buzzing mosquitoes swarming around him, emotion starts to bleed out from him; most noticeably in one scene where he delivers a dramatic soliloquy to the insects after one of their number passes away.
Streaming on Shudder, MOSQUITO STATE stands out as a quite singular entry in its already impressive slate. Winning Best Cinematography at last year’s Venice Film Festival its arthouse stylings may alienate some, particularly those who may be expecting something more full blooded. Visually distinctive from the start, beginning with a credit sequence that takes a near forensic, close up look at how quickly mosquitoes reproduce and populate whichever environments they choose to inhabit and broken into chapters punctuated by freeze frames that transform into oil paintings, MOSQUITO STATE stands out visually on its own already distinctive terms to go along with its measured, involving storytelling.
At times it feels like the filmic equivalent of the weird fiction of authors Laird Barron, John Langan and Nathan Ballingrud, writers who also deal in alienated characters mixed up in cosmic horror. From its visually arresting beginning to its haunting conclusion this strange mixture of WALL STREET and THE FLY makes for one of the most original films available on the streaming site and one of the most original horror films of this year in general.