They Nest (2000)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|Running Time||88:32 (Case: 92)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Ellory Elkayem|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Mixed into this small town melodrama is a subplot involving a mutant strain of cockroach that infests the island by way of a human corpse that floats ashore. When a fisherman is stung by a killer roach, the scene is set for a slow, creeping escalation of mayhem that eventually gets everyone's attention. Most disturbingly, their troublesome ways prevent Ben and the leggy Nell from having a sweaty, gymnastic, apocalyptic shag in the woods.
Made for television, this effective little horror film takes its cue directly from a slew of past ecological horror films such as Slugs, Squirm, Mimic, The Nesting, Kingdom of the Spiders, Phase IV, Frogs, The Swarm, The Giant Spider Invasion, The Savage Bees, Them, Piranha, They Come from Within (aka Shivers in Australia), Humanoids from the Deep, and many others. As Stephen King has pointed out, these fun, formulaic movies generally feature (a) military or civilian scientists fooling around with nature, who for some reason do not warn anyone of the potential hazards, (b) a square-jawed hero and a nubile love interest who looks like she just stepped out of a shampoo commercial, (c) rednecks or politicians who refuse to acknowledge the menace before it's too late, (d) an outbreak of the menace that kills off many of the characters in unique, fascinating ways until the hero saves the day, and (e) a dark coda that implies a much wider infestation than that shown in the story.
They Nest, directed by New Zealander Ellory Elkayem (Larger than Life, Arac Attack) and shot in Vancouver, is a classic example of this subgenre. It is played ultra-straight, similar to an X-Files episode, and wastes no time with subtexts or grandiose statements about the terrors that irresponsible scientific endeavours may unleash upon an unsuspecting world (the current foot-and-mouth disease outbreak gave this film an eerie resonance). The acting is competent given the material at hand. Melrose Place pretty boy Thomas Calabro was in fine form, as were Dean Stockwell (Blue Velvet, Dune), John Savage (The Thin Red Line, Carnosaur 2, Godfather III), and Kristen Dalton (Tango and Cash, The Wolves). As far as gore goes, there are a few interesting scenes involving larval bugs inside stomachs, a tracheotomy, dead animals, an autopsy, and someone vomiting up a bloody puddle of bug bile, but there's nothing to get really excited about. Having said that, the practical and digital special effects are very good. The CGI work was handled by Doug Campbell, who also worked on Stargate SG-1 and the wonderfully grotesque sci-fi mini-series Lexx.
With its earnest, low-key approach, They Nest offers little in the way of genuine fear, plot twists, bloodshed, suspense, or originality. If it was made in the 1950s it would have been hailed a masterpiece of the macabre, but considering its heritage, They Nest scores low on exploring uncharted territory. Conversely, if you're looking for a serious horror film made with an emphasis on characterization and realism, this modest little fright flick is highly recommended.
Sharpness and detail was on par with broadcast television. The crisp image, originally shot by TV regular Philip Linzey, yields many textures and details, both foreground and background. Shadow detail was excellent, and there was no evidence of edge enhancement. Blacks were solid and noise-free.
Colours were also well rendered, although the palette on this film was restricted to the grey, foresty backdrops of a perpetually overcast Vancouver: another reason why this feature resembles The X-Files. Dr Ben's red utility truck exhibited a pleasing level of saturation and skin tones were accurate -- at least on the characters that were alive, heh heh heh. (Incidentally, I think Scully and Mulder would have sewn up this case in the first act. "Scully, this reminds me of a B-movie I saw once. Bugs using humans as hosts." "You're right, Mulder. I'll evacuate the island and put everyone in quarantine. You call Skinner and get him to mobilize the army into napalming the entire area.")
I only noticed maybe two instances of white speckle on the image, and two instances of transparent blotches that looked like water marks, one at 26:35 (a kind of tiger stripe, as if someone had dabbed a greasy witchety grub on the frame) and the other at 49:00, right over Tommy Calabro's handsome face. These artefacts lead me to believe this transfer was indeed sourced from film, but the jury is still out. Apart from some minor aliasing on high contrast transitions, there were no compression glitches. This is an outstanding transfer considering the low budget production and the relative youth of newcomer, Tribe.
Dialogue was clear and in sync. The only criticism I have was that it could have been sharper, mixed higher. I put this down to the film's low budget and the limitations of Pro-Logic.
The generic music by Vinny Golia integrates well with the sound effects and dialogue.
The surrounds perked into life every now and then, but on the whole they remained dormant. The subwoofer had a great time amplifying many of the ominous, extended bass notes in Golia's score, although they often sounded woolly in my Gold Class home cinema.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is fabulous, and the audio, while being a lazy Pro-Logic mix, has a decent enough presence at high volumes. Predictably, there are no real extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-737, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|