The Swarm is a French horror film featuring locusts who develop a lust for blood that can be found on Netflix. Don’t let the title fool you or even the poster. The Swarm may be a movie about swarms of deadly grasshoppers, but it isn’t as action-packed as you may think. It’s more of a slow-burn horror-thriller than anything else, but it’s so much more. It’s easy to picture a glitzy American remake of The Swarm, with a lot more shouting and chasing. Just Philippot, on the other hand, is a European independent film filmmaker.
The Swarm: Plot Overview
Virginie (Suliane Brahim), a single parent with two kids, lives in a remote village. Laura (Marie Narbonne) and Gaston (Raphael Romand) are her two children, and she is doing whatever she can to keep the home farm running. She begins raising locusts in plastic-wrapped cages since there isn’t enough land or fresh water for plants and livestock. Hence, she grinds up the dead bugs into protein-rich powder for livestock feed and organic, which she sells by the pound as livestock food to local herders. Maintaining locusts is difficult, especially when they begin to dry up and die off due to a lack of food, and things quickly become hopeless.
Virginie loses her cool when faced with poverty and disaster, and she starts smashing things up, slashing her forearm and passing out. She sees that the hoppers are all sucking up to her fluids and seem a lot better once she wakes up. As their Swarm grows, she secretly injects it into the food and establishes new breeding homes in their backyard. Pig’s blood leads to pet goats, pet goats bring in lost dogs, and lost dogs result in the schlocky poster’s projected outcome. Things definitely go haywire as soon as the locusts acquire a taste for animal meat and then of people.
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The trailer misdirection
If you’ve seen the trailer, you’re undoubtedly anticipating a conventional horror film with plenty of action and suspense. But, unfortunately, this isn’t your typical horror film. To be honest, the trailer promotes a totally different film from the one you’ll be seeing.
The real villain isn’t a locust
I continue to feel that the mother, not the locusts, is the monster. She’s the one who devotes all of her time to locust reproduction and does everything it takes to keep the population growing. All the while, she leaves her children in their own ways. Her obsession with extending the farm entails a physical bloodbath. Her younger sibling is left in the care of her adolescent daughter. Meanwhile, the daughter is being bullied at school because of her mother’s (at first) failing locust farm.
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Yes, there is terror in the shape of blood-sucking locusts, but that isn’t even the film’s greatest dread. Instead, the Swarm is somewhat more bothered with how far some individuals are willing to go in order to stay swimming. Even to the point of bleeding oneself dry to put meals on the plate. This might be interpreted as a critique of current capitalism. Still, it’s also a horror classic: A protagonist who overlooks their instincts for self-preservation and suffers the price as a result.
It has a feel-bad specialty
It’s a genuinely depressing film, with all the misery associated with a mother’s forsaking her children in preference of her insectoid spawn. The mother intends to “not failing,” stating that it’s all “for the kids.” But, of course, this is just nonsense, and her kid repeatedly calls her out on it. Another big bonus is that all of the performers do a fantastic job portraying their roles naturally. It’s just not terrifying in the traditional horror sense.
Undoubtedly the greatest part of the film is the locusts themselves. They shake their mesh-lined cages and materialize in high-definition close-ups. Crawling up a window on little spined legs and staring unblinkingly at the camera with their composite puppy-dog eyes. The horrifying whirring of locusts permeates the whole film. Always buzzing around in the background of virtually every scene.
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The cast does good work
Brahim gives an outstanding performance as the film’s protagonist. There aren’t many performers who can pull off heartbreak, frustration, and crazy obsession as well as this one. When Karim advises that Virginie continues into nursing, he is absolutely correct, foreshadowing his fate.
Her son Gaston (Raphael Romand) likes the bugs and keeps a couple in a glass in his room. However, her daughter Laura (Marie Narbonne) is fed up with the local kids making fun of her mother’s disgusting work and is anxious to leave. All through the narrative, the daughter and son are lovable protagonists. The young actors dress and act like real teenagers. There are tangled familial relationships at work here.
The film’s first half is a simple drama that builds anxiety around Virginie’s presumably hopeless business enterprise. They do just what comes easily to them, much like locusts. In the case of the children, one focuses on caring and nourishing while the other one is attempting to develop happy memories.
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The Swarm: See it or skip it?
I love The Swarm as a horror drama combining social reality and criticism. It was just not the movie that was represented in the promo, so be forewarned. The locusts do get extremely frightening at two points in this film. Philippot directs the film to its furthest potential. Cutting out the money shots and relying on skin-crawling practical effects for maximum harrowing theatrical effect. If you dislike bugs, you may find it difficult to watch a few of the close-up waddling images that push into the panic. So instead, prefer to focus on the real-world tragedy of a family steadily being ripped apart by economic concern.
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