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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Review: The Swarm

Director: Just Philippot

Screenplay: Jérôme Genevray and Frank Victor

Year: 2021

A woman runs a locust farm, which is not doing well at all. By accident, she discovers the formula to boost the productivity of her farm: feed the locust with blood. Seeing that her farm begins to proliferate and seeing a solution to her financial problems, the woman becomes obsessed with her locust.

By its name and its premise, "The Swarm" ("La Nuée") seems to offer a film of horror creatures, where people must fight for their lives against bloodthirsty insects. Well, I regret to inform you that it is nothing further from the truth. Instead of opting for the horror that it erroneously offers, it does more for the family drama and social criticism, and the horror remains in a second (or third) plane.

Virginie is a single mother struggling to feed and support her family's roof, but things are getting worse and worse, and her insect farm is not working as it should. From here, the metaphors and social criticism begin, as we see the protagonist work tirelessly to prosper, but increasingly limited economically, the history of the working class in many countries. It is not until she gives of her own blood and puts her family at risk that things begin to improve, and here the metaphor speaks for itself.

The interpretation of Siliane Brahim (“Black Spot”) as Virginie, the performances of the rest of the cast, and how well the cinematography is crafted are the threads that drive us to delve into the plot. The protagonists’ struggles and the family drama are intriguing, and we closely feel Virginie's progressive descent into madness. Although it is pretty obvious what the outcome will be, the development makes us want to be there to see it, as if it were a process of catharsis.

"The Swarm" suffers from two main problems: every major event in its plot is highly predictable, and horror is almost non-existent. From the first minutes of the film, and once the plot is established, we can predict every major event in the plot with nearly surgical precision, and the writers Jérôme Genevray and Frank Victor have no wow factor for overcoming this. On the other hand, for most of the movie’s length, they seem to have forgotten that they offered a horror movie, only occasionally offering some quality glimpses, but that seems to be just to meet the horror element.

“The Swarm,” the new French horror movie on Netflix, does a good job of exposing the hardships that workers, especially farmers, go through in many places but forgets it's a horror movie. When it presents something in this genre, it does a great job, which leaves fans with a bad taste in their mouths as they witness the wasted potential. The performances, cinematography, and development manage to overcome its problems to make it entertaining, but leave the feeling that it is a missed opportunity to do something interesting in the horror genre.

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