Viewers are treated to summer camp courtesy of USA Networks with this icky-crawly sci-fi horror romp. “They Nest,” a slickly produced hybrid of killer insect movies like “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “Arachnophobia,” should pull in decent numbers for the net and prompt a major surge in the demand for bug spray. Although “Melrose Place” alum Thomas Calabro gets top billing, the real stars here are the bugs, and what the movie lacks in originality is more than made up for in gross-out factor.
Script by John Claflin and Daniel Zelman follows the basic tenants of the bug-filled horror movie: Well-meaning fish out of water comes to small town in search of redemption, finds bugs instead.
Fact is, most viewers don’t flock to a movie like “They Nest” for its clever plot twists. They tune in for the bugs. But it takes a good 20 minutes of plot buildup before the first antennae pop up.
The overly long setup has Calabro’s Dr. Ben Cahill retreating to a small island in Maine for some mandatory R&R as he fights to stay alcohol free. But some of the townies, including the crusty Jack Wald (John Savage) are less than friendly to the mainlander and play various tricks on the good doctor in the hopes he will sell his vacation property. When Jack is found dead, Cahill becomes a suspect. In order to clear his name, Cahill has to prove that a rare breed of killer insects has infiltrated the island.
As for buglike horror, director Ellory Elkayem has got it all covered. There’s the “Alien”-like human incubation as well as the crawling swarm, which later involves into the menacing flying hoard.
These are the movies where TV actors come to die, at least onscreen, and perfs here are fairly straightforward. Calabro takes his role in stride, though Savage and Stockwell seem above this kind of material.
Stunts by Ed Anders illicit the appropriate amount of chills, which are accentuated by Phillip Linzey’s cleverly incorporated bug’s eye view.