Mosquito State has a solid blueprint to follow in The Fly, but it can’t quite make head or tail out of what made David Cronenberg’s 1986 masterpiece so special.
Filip Jan Rymsza’s first directorial feature in 13 years has a strong basis in reality, set in New York in August 2007, just as the USA’s economy is on the verge of collapsing overnight. The story centres on financial analyst Richard Boca (Beau Knapp, Seven Seconds) who is first introduced as he’s mingling with people at a party – just like Seth Brundle in The Fly. Moments before the camera reaches him, it tracks the journey of a mosquito (following a deftly made CGI credit sequence), which makes its way across the shindig until it lands on the back of Richard’s neck.
Once the character leaves the party with an ambitious young woman who’s caught his eye, Lena (Charlotte Vega, Wrong Turn), the effects of the mosquito bite unveil in painful ways. Much of the film is a chamber piece set in the protagonist’s luxury penthouse, an ultra-modern brutalist reality. The nightmare of a corporate dystopia manifests itself in the form of body horror as his face and body swell up from grotesque mosquito bites and the audience observes his melding connection with the creature. At some point, one expects there to be a full-body transformation à la Jeff Goldblum’s tragic hero. Alas, it doesn’t go there.
Though the piece may not necessarily need to delve deeper, there’s not much in the way of progressive intrigue beyond the core allegory of an America that’s eating itself alive, with a swarm of thirsty creatures sucking the blood out of the country’s vulnerable body. Ironically, even though an old-fashioned horror movie is best situated to cinematically represent a nation’s living nightmare, it’s the dense information texts like the documentary Inside Job that are easier to engage with than Mosquito State. So much of this slow burner relies on mood and atmosphere but neither elements have the wings to carry the audience’s interest through to the end of the feature.
Mosquito State is released digitally on demand on 26th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for Mosquito State here: