I don't even know where to begin as I sit down to review "Deadly Swarm." Here is a movie about killer wasps with absolutely no sting. I know it sounds like I'm trying to be witty, but it's the truth. Miramax and Lionsgate definitely played it smart when dumping this straight-to-DVD and Blu-ray.
Crazed scientist Jacob Schroeder (J. Patrick McCormack) stops at nothing to trap thousands of killer wasps in the jungle of Guatemala. He's convinced that the venom from their stingers can be used for medicinal purposes to fight serious illnesses. The truck they are smuggled in crashes during an attempting to transport them across the border into the U.S. The container the wasps are held in breaks open, unleashing them on the innocent citizens of a small town. American entomologist Daniel Lang (Shane Brolly) and a meddlesome writer Sandra Kern (Kaarina Aufranc) must find a way to stop them before they wipe out everything in their path.
"Deadly Swarm" does have an interesting story to tell and a simple question to answer. The plot is well thought out but loses its potency somewhere in the transition from script to screen. The question asked is one brought up by Mr. Spock first in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."
Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one? Are the deaths of a couple thousand residents of a small town insignificant if it helps to create medicines that can cure millions? Pretty deep stuff for a film about killer wasps to tackle.
The special effects for "Deadly Swarm" are what we've come to expect from these types of nature-gone-awry flicks. The cloud of wasps is evidently CGI and filmmakers don't really try too hard to hide it. How much extra money could it possibly take to make a cluster of wasps look more realistic? The giant welts found on the bodies of their victims are convincing and rather nasty looking, though.
The biggest problem with "Deadly Swarm" is it isn't visually graphic enough. People who watch these types of horror movies want to "see" the wasps stinging and crawling all over the victims. They want more gore and graphic imagery. This seems intent on playing it safe to appeal to a wider audience. Many viewers attracted by the "Not Rated" tagline are going to be angry or disappointed as the credits roll.
Even though "Deadly Swarm" is "Not Rated," it really should be PG-13. There's some bad language sprinkled throughout and scenes of victims with welts all over their bodies. The film is devoid of any nudity or sexuality, unless you consider a girl in a half shirt obscene.
I'm not entirely sure how "Deadly Swarm" came to be released by Miramax and Lionsgate. It's tailor-made for the SyFy Channel and obviously barely missed the clutches of Roger Corman. The only reason I could see Corman passing this up is if the filmmakers just flat out refused to allow him to have bikini-clad women running around senselessly while trying to escape being stung by wasps. It's B-movie fodder without the self-aware charm found in the Asylum or Corman's releases.
"Deadly Swarm" is available now on DVD.