Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Millenium Bug and Storytelling: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by producer John Charles Meyer.

Director/writer: Kenneth Cran.

The Millenium Bug is an indie film from Kenneth Cran that deals with hillbillies, the Y2K and giant creatures living underground. No, this is not a hybrid of The Hills Have Eyes and Tremors, but something a little different. Set on December 31st, 1999, the day before Y2K, The Millenium Bug deals with some of the fears that came with a computing programming problem that was more anti-climactic, than anything else. Unfortunately, this film has a problem or two involving a weakly and awkwardly developed story. However, Cran's production team makes up for some of these weaknesses with stunning visuals. The sets, models and creature effects are all delivered with no CGI and the result is impressive. After the credits roll, despite the film's drawbacks, The Millenium Bug left this reviewer with a satisfied feeling.

The film begins with the Haskins leaving the city for the local woods, over fears of the coming Y2K. Of course, in horror, there are inbred hillbillies lying behind every boulder and tree in the local campgrounds. The Crawfords take inbreeding depression to unnecessary lows, as each member of the family has some deformity, whether externaly expressed or not (brain damage anyone?). Some in the clan have hunchbacks, and gross facial distortions. Others are maniacal. The Crawfords come up with a plan to improve the next generation's looks by abducting local campers, including the Haskins and breeding with them. Then, the campy begins, while a researcher searches for a creature of lore.

This towering creature looks great and seven stories tall, but where is the compelling dialogue and plot driven action? Neither of these two writing elements are here and Cran seems to rely too heavily on frenetic movement and violence to propel the film forward. More attention could have been given to the introduction of the Haskins and to the development of tension to improve the story'telling. Hillbillies are generally supposed to be scary in horror films. Here, they are just campy.

Benjamin Watts does a great job of running the creature through puppetry and Cran pulls triple and quadruple duty by decorating the sets, amongst other side jobs. The sets looks great and so does the creature. There is some interposing of one film onto another, to give the creature size and dimension. The result is pretty fantastic. The models used for many of the sets look great in exterior shots and the attention to detail on the sets e.g. set decoration, detailing is also well done. Everything visually looks great and these elements help to overlook some of the earlier setbacks.

Currently, The Millenium Bug is set to hit the film festival circuit, with a stop in Saskatchewan October 1st at the Dark Bridges Film Festival. This reviewer has not doubt that this film will receive distribution at some point and an audience. For now, there is no release date. So fans of the over-the-top style of filmmaking will have to wait for Cran's film to generate some attention at the coming festivals.

Overall this film left this reviewer with a good impression regarding the entertainment factor for The Millenium Bug, especially in the final frames. The writing could have been strengthened with more well written dialogue. However, this film brings the creature feature to some heights in the finale, thanks to Robert Lindsay, Bridget Clarke, Dustin Yoder and others in the visual effects team.

Visuals/effects/makeup: 8 (everything visually looks great).
Plot/story/writing: 5 (lots of room for improvement here - from character writing to storytelling in general).

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

Become a fan of the film on Facebook for updates:

The Millenium Bug on Facebook

A well written review of this film by Lauren Taylor at Blood Disgusting:

The Millenium Bug Reviewed at Bloody Disgusting

Jon Briddell is one of the principal actors in this title. Briddell has been in a few horror titles of late. Also, his character was offed too early in the title reviewed here. Also, support this site by buying guilty pleasures at Amazon:

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