Mosquito State is a rather icky and uncomfortable body horror which draws heavily on David Cronenberg’s The Fly and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, with added political overtones: a Wall Street data analyst starts to have a meltdown during the buildup to the financial crash of 2007-8. Beau Knapp plays the socially uncomfortable analyst Richard, bitten by a mosquito at a corporate event. Lena, played by Charlotte Vega, comes back to his home where they spend an evening awkwardly talking about ambitions – she is a networker working in a wine bar with dreams of something better – whilst a mosquito lays eggs in her lipsticked wine glass.
Soon Knapp is being bitten left, right and centre: his face swelling, huge disfiguring lumps appearing all over his body, as his so-called friends takes advantage of him in work. He hears the mosquitos buzzing all the time, even starting to prepare food for them, and controls them via thoughts and speech. All of which is drenched in red neon light with a creepy, buzzy synth soundtrack.
The Wall Street bloodsucking metaphor is fairly heavily reinforced via the mosquito, Richard’s algorithms attempting to control them but failing as the crash looms ever closer. It’s all very dry and icy, though, with Vega’s potential lover offering the only emotional hook as Knapp shuffles about and gains ever more nasty looking pustules. Writer/director Rymsza’s film has an intriguing premise that ambles around without fully engaging; Knapp is hard to access, coming across like a Zuckerberg variant, emotionally stunted but at the heart of big data.
It’s well shot, and a CGI opening with macro mosquito footage intrigues, but the human element feels sadly missing and the ideas propelling the narrative do not satisfyingly build, buzzing off into a underwhelming climax. That said, Mosquito State will make you very itchy as the incessant insect noise pervades. Get the citronella candles out.
Dir: Filip Jan Rymsza (15, 101 mins)
Streaming on Shudder from Thurs 26 Aug
words KEIRON SELF
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