Written and directed by Kenneth Cran
It’s December 31st, 1999, and the Haskin family – daughter Clarissa, her father Byron, and her new stepmother Joany – are making their way to a remote location in the mountains for a little holiday camping trip. Their plan is to spend some quality time together and enjoy the great outdoors, as well as avoid any of the chaos the dreaded Y2K bug may bring to more populated areas. However, shortly after the clock rolls over to the year 2000, the Haskins’ idyllic getaway is rudely interrupted when they’re attacked and captured by the Crawford clan, a family of filthy backwoods hillbillies who make the villains from Deliverance look like cultured Rhodes scholars by comparison.
Y’see, the Crawfords are tired of their inbred offspring always ending up deformed, and they see Clarissa as just the right person to put a little chlorine into their gene pool. But shortly after Clarissa’s strange marriage to the Crawford family’s resident eligible bachelor Billa, both the Crawfords and the Haskins are forced to deal with a much bigger problem–namely, The Millennium Bug. Not the computer virus, mind you, but rather a huge, insect-like monster that only emerges once every thousand years.
The Millennium Bug, the debut feature of director Kenneth Cran, is an inventive and original monster mash-up that proudly wears its B-movie inspirations on its sleeve, combining cabin in the woods slasher films, hillbilly horror a la The Hills Have Eyes, and even a healthy dose of Japanese kaiju giant monster mayhem for good measure. Haters of CGI can rejoice as the creature and all other effects in the film are realized entirely through practical effects, with nary an offending pixel in sight. Of course, people who prefer practical effects because they think it looks more realistic than CGI may be a bit disappointed, since at no point does the titular giant bug look like anything other than what it is: a man in a monster suit menacing some miniature sets. But then again the monster’s old-fashioned appearance, along with the film’s other deficiencies (some obvious blue-screen work, sets that look like…well…sets), is part of the film’s charm. And realism aside, Cran has made an impressively stylish looking film on a very miniscule budget, with the moody cinematography and the artificiality of the sets combining to give the movie a surreal, off-kilter look that suits its tone and subject matter well. With more experience and a bigger budget, Cran could make a truly great looking film.
With that said, the film is not without its problems. Although the Crawford family members are appropriately colorful and weird, the Haskins are a bit on the bland side, the film lacking a central character as memorable as, say, Ash from the Evil Dead films. Some of the plotting and dialogue is a little rocky in places as well, but considering that this is Cran’s first feature, that’s forgivable. And with its copious gore effects, campy, sick humor, and frenetic pacing, Sam Raimi (not to mention Stuart Gordon and Bad Taste-era Peter Jackson) would approve wholeheartedly of this movie.
Is The Millennium Bug a silly movie? You bet it is. Truth be told, it’s a very silly movie, but it’s a silly movie with some genuine passion and talent behind it. While there’s no denying it’s not for all tastes, lovers of old-school genre cinema – the kind of people who like their blood made from corn syrup, their humor twisted, and their monsters handcrafted – should have a blast with this one.
3 out of 5