Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Directed by Miguel Coyula
Written by Miguel Coyula
Starring Adam Plotch, Talia Rubel, Diane Spodarek
Produced by Miguel Coyula
Join me for a movie, part one of three, that actually might’ve been pretty good if it hadn’t been for one particularly unpleasant part that botched the whole thing a dozen times over.
So what we have here is part one of three in a series set in a New York with lots of acid rain and the ethical values of a major corporation, DNA 21. That’s scary enough as it stands, but keep going and watch what else we’ve got. A twentysomething hooks up with a mysterious young woman and they begin a journey together that will not end well.
It’s almost like a really dark and malevolent version of the Japanese anime hit series, “FLCL.” Except here, the pervasive and only slightly ominous Medical Mechanica has been coopted by a dystopian future and DNA 21. Surly, grumpy twelve year old Naota has been replaced with Adam, a callow, spineless twentysomething and cheerily vicious space police officer Haruka has been replaced with Lily, a surly, grumpy, marginally mysterious jaded Parisian urbanite with one big secret.
And while they never say just what it is that DNA 21 does, or produces, or provides, they do hint around every so often. Much in the same way that Medical Mechanica’s product line is never specifically revealed.
It really IS the live action version of FLCL, except they sucked all the fun out of it and replaced it with more surrealism than a David Lynch movie. By comparison, “Red Cockroaches” makes “Naked Lunch” look like “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
Perhaps one of the first things you’ll notice about “Red Cockroaches”, and this is actually pretty well echoed throughout the film, is Coyula’s tendency to use the most bizarre freaking angle he can come across in shooting. Check out the camera work at two minutes and thirty nine seconds—BEHIND THE FORK. I’ve never seen a shot similar to this.
And there is a LOT of potential in “Red Cockroaches“‘s world. The way they hint around with DNA 21, the way the world is just so slightly altered…anything really could be done here. I find myself looking forward to the rest of the series just to find out what they actually DID with a plotline like this. I can think of at least a few different plotlines for this, and there are probably hundreds more than I could ever conceive of.
Plus, there are all kinds of strange hallucinatory sequences, and a whole bunch of unexplainable strangenesses. Mutated insects that mean instant fatalities for humans, undrinkable tapwater, revived dead relatives, and unnerving mentions of “destroying the colonies” make for a disturbing look at a possible dystopian future.
And just what the deuce is that thing that goes whizzing by with an audible “whoosh” sound at the thirty four minute forty six second mark?? And did I see him pay for fast food with a two hundred dollar bill and get no change?? I am so intensely unnerved.
The trouble with “Red Cockroaches,” however, is how little of it actually makes sense without the rest of it being complete. A lot of the movie is vague hints and suggestions at the future.
Of course, I don’t pretend for a moment that this isn’t necessary due to the nature of the film—it’s part one of three, folks, with the other two parts due out who knows when—but it doesn’t make the going any easier right now. I can’t even tell if it’s a horror movie, a science fiction movie, or some strange suspensish hybrid.
And join us for a truly freakish round of “If You Can’t Keep It In Your Pants, Keep It In The Family!” at the forty six minute mark. And it’s a good example of what truly is going on here…he’s banging his sister up the ass on the kitchen floor, little red light bits zinging around everywhere, it’s just twenty pounds of creepy in a five pound sack.
Yeah, that’s right, folks…Lily is his SISTER. His everlovin’ sister. I had to tell you—I realize it’s a small chunk of plot just out the window but you’ve really got to be aware of this. Some of you out there join me in the assertion that incest is probably one of the biggest deal-breakers on the face of the earth and you deserve to be warned that there WILL be some of that in “Red Cockroaches.”
The ending is unsatisfying, naturally, but that’s to be expected with part one of three.
The special features include a making of featurette, a director’s biography, a trailer for “Red Cockroaches,” deleted scenes, a short film from the director, story boards, and DVD credits.
All in all, if it weren’t for the incest this would have been a pretty fair movie, a solid setup to what might be an interesting trilogy. So, if you ignore that truly awful chunk of time, you actually may get along nicely with “Red Cockroaches.”
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
Got a problem? E-mail us at email@example.com