action, horror, Maneater series, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: May 6th, 2014 Movie – Black Swarm

black swarm

Why if it isn’t my old friend, the Maneater series of movies. It’s been a while since I have watched one of you guys, a little over a month in fact. Anyways, I know I am falling behind on getting these blog posts out. To start with, I moved recently so my schedule at work changed this past week. On top of that, I have a pair of hyper active kids whose favorite past time is to come into their uncle’s room and make him spend time playing with them, so that kind of pushes me back even more. Well, that is not the worst thing to have happen and it isn’t as bad as it sounds to be honest. Now, let’s get to watching some movies and enjoy Black Swarm once again.

The plot: In Black Stone, New York, local exterminator Dan Hall is called out to deal with a wasp nest and, noting the weird wasps coming out of the nest, he moves his blowtorch up to ignite the nest only for it to explode in a freak accident, killing him. Some time later, Jane Kozik is moving with her 9 year old daughter Kelsey back to Black Stone from Manhatten, though Kelsey is not to thrilled at the prospect and wonders asks her mom why she had moved away if it is such a good place to live. In Black Stone, Devin Hall, Dan’s brother, is checking out the basement of Beverly Rowe, a blind woman that used to babysit the neighborhood kids such as him when he was young. As he finishes up, she comments about Jane moving back to town and how funny it is that she is moving back just as he is leaving. Devin heads to his shop at the center of town and is approached by Mayor Blatz, who is desperately trying to convince Devin to stay, but Devin says that the town is dying because all of the work has left and he has nothing keeping him in town. As they continue arguing, they don’t notice a strange man with welts on his head walking around, emitting a strange buzzing sound. When Jane and Kelsey get to town, Jane goes to get the keys to their house, leaving Kelsey to wander around the town. Kelsey runs into a man blowing a whistle, though she doesn’t hear anything, and as she questions the man, he tells her that his name is Eli and offers her a peach if she can keep it a secret that she saw him. When Kelsey’s attentions is distracted by an ice cream truck, Eli disappears and Kelsey asks her mom for some money to get some ice cream but the driver, who is making a strange buzzing sound and acting erratically, drops the ice cream he hands her, then drives off. Later that night, a busker sneaks into Beverly’s basement to sleep for the night but as he lays down, he hears some buzzing coming from a hole in the wall and as he peers inside, a swarm of wasps bursts out, slamming him into a wall before swarming all over him while the queen flies into his mouth. The next day, Jane arrives on the scene at Beverly’s house and is shocked to see what happened to the busker, asking the doctor to let her know what he finds out. Jane then heads inside to see Beverly, who tells her about Devin leaving town and admonishes Jane for not letting Kelsey meet her uncle but Jane says it would be difficult to see Devin since she would just be reminded of his brother, who was her husband when he died. At the town morgue, Devin is called in by the doctor and finds a woman, Katherine Randall, examining the body instead. Katherine explains that she is an entomologist that was called in for a consult and shows him an ovipositor that she had found in the victim’s body. Devin asks of it could have been anaphylactic shock that killed him but she says she didn’t see signs of asphyxiation, and is puzzled by the death. After they leave, the coroner enters the morgue only to find the body has disappeared and when he tries looking for it, he is suddenly grabbed by the busker’s body, which has somehow reanimated, and killed, before the busker walks off. Devin is leaving town when something slams into his windshield, cracking it. After calling his friend at the garage to see if he can fix it, Devin examines the windshield and finds the body of a large wasp, which is what hit the glass, and grabs a sample jar to collect the remains. Devin takes the jar back to the morgue to show Katherine, only to find Jane there examining the coroner’s murder. After an awkward conversation with Jane, Devin shows Katherine the remains and when she looks at them, she thinks it would be a good idea to check out where the busker died and Devin agrees to take her there. When they get there, they talk with Beverly briefly, who says that Kelsey would be coming by in a little bit and suggests he meet her but Devin says he would need permission from Jane to do that. Devin and Katherine search Beverly’s basement tool shed for any sign of the nest or swarm but can’t find anything. As they leave, Katherine asks Devin what he is going to do and Devin admits that he wants to go back to grad school but doesn’t want to abandon the town when there might be a killer wasp infestation. Some time later, Kelsey is dropped off at Beverly’s house and after they talk for a while, she sneaks out into the back yard and finds Eli next door. She talks with him for a little while, asking him where his bees are, before he heads inside his trailer. Inside, Eli opens a hidden hatch in his floor and heads down to a secret lab, where he has a giant swarm of wasps locked in a glass cage. Eli takes some peaches he collected from outside and as he injects them with some syringes, the wasps appear to get agitated. When Eli leaves, Kelsey sneaks into his trailer and finds his hidden lab, where she bites one of the peaches but throws it away, as it tastes bad, and when the wasps become super agitated, she quickly leaves. In town, Mayor Blatz is at the church when he sees Father Francis acting erratically and when he asks if he is ok, Francis calls out Blatz’s name before a swarm of wasps issue out of his mouth and attack Blatz, killing him. In town, more and more people are acting strange, with the people showing welts from being stung and a buzzing sound coming from them. Devin is trying to make his way through town, which is jammed due to a police officer’s erratic behavior, when he receives a call from Katherine who is in a nearby alley. When Devin meets with her, she tells him that the wasps were bio-engineered and apparently meant to be used as a weapon and she asks him to come with her to help figure this out but Devin says he has to get Jane and Kelsey to safety. As he drives off, a car pulls up next to Katherine and she comments about him being a boy scout before she gets in the car and tells the men inside to drive. As Beverly calls Kelsey to come inside, having heard the swarm overhead, the wasps begin attacking the house and Beverly and Kelsey decide to leave, cutting through a corn field as a short cut into town. Devin sees them and chases after them and when they get separated, the wasps attack and kill Beverly. Kelsey runs off screaming when Devin catches up to her and as she asks why he looks like her dad, he explains that her dad was his twin brother. Devin says they need to get away from the wasps and Kelsey suggests he talk to Eli and takes him to his lab. Meanwhile, Jane goes to Beverly’s house to look for Beverly and Kelsey and when she can’t find them in the house, she ends up looking for them outside and eventually discovers Eli’s lab. Entering the lab, she holds Eli at gunpoint and starts asking him question when Kelsey and Devin show up. Eli explains what he had done with the wasps and Devin says that he will help Eli kill them while Jane and Kelsey get to safety but Jane says the town’s safety is her responsibility and she asks Eli to take Kelsey to the church. Elsewhere, Katherine uses a computer to contact her HQ and they tell her to locate Eli, as he must be in town and as they continue driving, they spot Eli with Kelsey heading to the church. When Eli and Kelsey enter the church, Eli confronts Kelsey about the peach and when she admits she ate part of one, he tells her the wasps now think that she is their queen. Suddenly, Father Francis appears and Eli tells Kelsey to hide but when Francis spots her and tries to grab her, he suddenly falls apart, revealing a swarm of wasps emerging from his remains. Blatz shows up and moves to grab Kelsey when Katherine shoots him. Eli thanks Katherine’s arrival but Katherine shoot Eli and while her men grab Kelsey, Katherine approaches Eli and forces a wasp into his mouth. Elsewhere, Jane and Devin are driving and as they discuss Dan, Jane admits that she missed Devin more than her husband. When the swarm suddenly begins attacking Devin’s van, they head to a bridge and Devin rigs his van to explode as a means to kill them but it doesn’t work and they are forced to run. They eventually coe to a sewer opening and make their way through the sewers into the old cement factory, where they find several of the townsfolk acting as wasp drones while Kelsey is entombed in a giant wasp’s nest. Katherine appears and tells them that she killed Eli and plans on killing them in order to finish her job but Jane pulls out her gun and kills her. The human drones begin moving towards them in order to defend the nest and they are forced to fight them as they back away. They are surprised to see Eli show up and he tells them that the military is there to destroy the nest and kill him. Eli helps them rescue Kelsey, who Jane reveals is actually Devin’s daughter, and they manage to make their way outside just as the helicopters begin firing on the building. The 4 make it to the woods outside the building and Eli gives Kelsey his whistle and tells them to leave, just as he is shot by a sniper and Kelsey cries out for him as Jane and Devin carry her away. 4 months later, Devin, Jane, and Kelsey are shown to still be living in Black Rock and as Kelsey plays in the back and watches some ants, Jane, who appears to be in the early stages of pregnancy, and Devin comment about her becoming a scientist and playfully argue if she is being like Eli or her father. Unknown to them, a wasp emerges from a nest nearby and Kelsey, seemingly reacting to it, smashes the ant nest.

Have to admit, this was a bit of a let down on several fronts. The acting was ok, with Robert Englund doing a good job as Eli and his interactions with Rebecca Windheim (Kelsey) were just great. I also liked Sheena Larkin (Beverly) but felt that the main stars of this movie were honestly pretty boring. The story sounded interesting, with the idea of bio-engineering wasps to attack enemy forces being straight out of science fiction. However, the end result in this movie kind of felt a little disjointed, with the various scene cuts not exactly blending together and making it seem almost haphazardly shot. The special effects with the wasps and the victims were pretty good, with the scene of Father Francis dissolving into the wasps being better than I would have thought it would be. However, the scene where Katherine and Jane shoot at each other was completely stupid and looked even worse. It’s some fun movie watching but is not the greatest thing out there.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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