Posted: 10/16/2005

 

Red Cockroaches

(2004)

by Barry Meyer



A micro-budget indie flick that’s sure to please.


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Like Robert Rodriguez before him, 27-year-old Cuban-born director, Miguel Coyula, knows how to stretch a micro budget. With a mere $2,000 in his pocket, a Canon GL1 digital camera and some Mac home editing software, Miguel made a splash in the Indie Film festival scene with the undeniably inventive tale of sexual intrigue splattered against a backdrop of a futuristic Manhattan skyline that’s been scarred by acid rain and overrun by mutant cockroaches and an authoritarian corporate giant.

Adam Plotch plays Adam, a 20-something who’s humdrum life, ruled by his possessive girlfriend and her overbearing parents, gets turned upside down when he becomes smitten with a familiar, yet alluring young woman (Talia Rubel) whom he spies standing alone on a subway platform. When, days later, the seductive gal unexpectedly appears at his doorstep inquiring about his ad for a roommate, his obsession grows into a frenzy—which culminates in some furious coital play (involving the bizarre use of a packet of ketchup!). Together, the freaky lovers embark on an obsessive-destructive journey that will reveal some dark family secrets and forbidden desires.

Rather than try to patronize the polish of CGI, Coyula instead utilizes the low rent appeal of the home editor by filling in Red Cockroaches’ gritty appearance with some harshly organic edits (like mimicking the interesting effect of a pop-up book), and simplistic, unimposing visual FX (space age flying vehicles are used as background accents instead of a wow!-effect). The performances by Plotch and Rubel are, as well, disarming and risky. And although they aren’t full of Hollywood glitter and looks, they both still bring some genuine sexual energy and appeal to their onscreen coupling. The shortcoming of this film is that their taboo love story seems disjointed from the Sci-Fi world playing around them in the rest of the movie. There’s some stuff about the ominous DNA21 Corporation which imposes a strict ethical hold on all the citizens of NYC, and who also may be behind the strange disappearances of children—not to mention those pesky mutant cockroaches—but the connection between the lovers, the corporation and the rest of the world is never fully broached. Red Cockroaches is purported to be the first installment of a trilogy, so perhaps all the mysteries and intrigue will be revealed in the following episodes. But without any real cohesion between plot and subplots, and the lack of any serial-story cliff hanger, Red Cockroaches becomes more of a very interesting (and highly watchable) experiment rather than one absorbingly solid film.

Barry Meyer is a critic and writer living among the cockroaches in New Jersey.



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