"The Nest" (citywide) harks back to the days when entire communities were regularly terrorized by "The Blob," "The Birds" or "Them." There's something inherently satisfying about injecting total hysteria into the serenity and peace of an otherwise predictable environment. This latest chapter in the genre--complete with state-of-the-art hideous effects--unquestionably does a bang-up job of scaring the pants off an audience.
Outwardly, things seem pretty normal on the island community of North Port. Richard (Franc Luz), the local sheriff, inherited the job from his father and dates the waitress in the cafe. Mayor Johnson (Robert Lansing) struggles to keep the economy afloat, and the remaining residents are a colorful, motley lot.
The most startling event to occur in years is the return of Elizabeth (Lisa Langlois), the mayor's daughter and Richard's old flame. Or so it seems.
In fact, the truly frightening disruption is yet to come. At first it's just a buzzing sound, followed by bloody, stripped-to-the-bone animal carcasses. Slowly, we're let in on the chilling secret. The island is being used, in exchange for future economic development, as a testing ground to create a cannibalistic cockroach. But the experiment is quickly becoming an entomological nightmare.
What's fascinating about the film is its balance of soap opera, social commentary, scientific logic and visceral terror. Robert King's script actually provides a plausible-sounding rationale at every turn. With such a strong foundation, director Terence Winkless succeeds in adding several bizarre and humorous touches to offset the requisite scenes of graphic violence endemic to this film species.
"The Nest" (MPAA-rated: R, for extreme insect violence) hatches its clever plot extremely successfully. The cast hits just the right tone of disbelief (with an inspired turn from Terri Treas as a contemporary mad scientist) and, when you're not looking away in shock, its technical virtues are easy to see.
A Concorde Pictures presentation. Producer Julie Corman. Director Terence Winkless. Screenplay Robert King. Camera Ricardo Gale. Editor James Stewart, Stephen Mark. Music Rick Conrad. With Robert Lansing, Lisa Langlois, Franc Luz, Terri Treas, Stephen Davies.
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.
MPAA-rated: R (under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian).