Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.
Release Date: April 6th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Clark Brandon Actors: Jim Youngs, Tracy Griffith, Charles Napier, Jay Robinson, William Sanderson, Michael J. Pollard, Eloy Casados, Saxon Trainor, Stacy Edwards
hey don’t make ’em like this anymore. And for good reason. “Skeeter” hearkens back to the cheesy killer-animal flicks of the ’50s, but with the update of better special effects – though even that is debatable. The budget is just as comparably minuscule, while the acting, scripting, and direction are nothing short of terrible. The spirit of creature features may be alive, but the creativity and effectiveness have clearly vanished in favor of exploitative concepts that are easy to market to horror-loving crowds (particularly where the ease of home video rentals lessens the need for discerning decisions).
When two teenage boys disappear while dirtbiking around an abandoned mine, it’s up to the Clear Sky Sheriff’s Department to investigate. Headed by deputies Roy Boone (Jim Youngs) and Hank Tucker (Eloy Casados), under the orders of Sheriff Ernie Buckle (Charles Napier), the scouring of the small-town desert vistas (like something out of “Tremors”) uncovers only a herd of dead cattle, exhibiting mysterious signs of exsanguination. Tainted water supply inquiries by the county (represented by actor William Sanderson as Gordon Perry), contaminated peyote, and corruption at the Clear Sky Ranch construction site – governed by evil businessman Mr. Drake (Jay Robinson, an absolutely unpersuasive villain) – further complicate the situation.
It isn’t until the boys’ father, Mr. O’Connell, is ambushed by a swarm of oversized mosquitoes during his own personal search that the true culprits become clearer (the first real attack takes place more than 20 minutes into the picture). His daughter Chrissy (Lindsay Fisher), while trapped in the family truck, is forced to watch as her dad is repeatedly stabbed by the knifelike proboscises from hundreds of skeeters. As a result, she’s rendered practically catatonic.
Unfortunately, either due to limited funds or limited imagination (or both), the use of fake blood is pathetically low. It’s a shame, because the mutant bugs provide quite the opportunity for over-the-top gore. Instead, the focus seems to be on the obligatory romancing of extreme redhead Sarah (Tracy Griffith), a completely unnecessary love interest for the two-expression Boone; the use of an unreasonably attractive medical examiner (Saxon Trainor as Dr. Jill Wyle), who makes wooden observations about wounds and autopsies; and a ridiculous subplot involving a deranged recluse (Michael J. Pollard) who attempts to domesticate and feed (for the sake of perverted ecstasy) a captive skeeter. Extra subplots, concerning the rape of the natural land and crippling depression after the loss of a loved one, similarly eat up screentime, as if the film desperately needed to fill 90 minutes. Even when extraneous scenes attempt to serve as character development, random new characters pop up just for a greater body count (Will and Mary Ann, played by Joe McCutcheon and Stacy Edwards, respectively, don’t make an initial appearance until nearly an hour in).
Other problems include the soundtrack, which never seems to wane as it continues switching incongruously between percussive (for suspense), comedic (for eccentric characters), and adventurous (for horseback riding sequences). And the skeeter-cam footage (“fly motion cam”) utilizes a tasteless yellow hue that struggles to convincingly allude to an insect’s viewpoint. Also, there seems to be a preoccupation with shirtless motorcycling. But at the heart of “Skeeter’s” failure are poor pacing, pitiful acting, lazy storytelling, and hopelessly flimsy mosquito props. If it weren’t for a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments of bad filmmaking (such as Boone stopping by his house to do some last-minute welding rather than rushing to the rescue of his abandoned girlfriend, seconds away from being consumed by ravenous insects), “Skeeter” would be utterly unwatchable.
– Mike Massie