Sunday, October 01, 2023

Creepy Crawly, on DVD

Nobody was more responsible for Covid shutdowns than Donald Trump. He implemented everything Anthony “Gain of Function” Fauci wanted and then gave his Covid policy chief an award when he left office. With that in mind, you might call this Thai hotel a “Trump Hotel,” because during the Wuhan pandemic, it caters to quarantine business. It definitely houses a public health risk, but the parasitic monster is much more dangerous than Covid in Chalit Krileadmongkon & Pakphum Wongjinda’s Creepy Crawly (a.k.a. The One Hundred), which releases Tuesday on DVD and BluRay.

This “Trump Hotel” has definitely seen better days, so the quarantine business represents a lucrative lifeline for the slimy hotel manager Wit, who will sexually harass anyone wearing a skirt. However, he is a bit alarmed to learn Fame, one of his reluctant new guests, is a travel influencer, who can ruin the hotel’s reputation. She also has a rare blood disease she has tried to keep secret from the clinical staff.

Fame is traveling with her brother (and video editor) Fiew, but she immediately develops a bit of chemistry with Leo, a Taekwondo champion traveling with his little sister and their deaf widowed father. Leo resents the old man for reasons that will be revealed, but the family will have to come together when the centipedes start to attack. The creepy-crawly things would be bad enough on their own, but they are being controlled by a “Tablongplum,” a giant insectoid monster that apparently has body-snatching powers, sort of like the monster in John Carpenter’s
The Thing.

The centipedes are really creepy, but the film is never so disgusting it becomes unwatchable (so dismiss any comparisons to
Human Centipede from your mind). Frankly, the centipede swarms might even be more unnerving than the monster directing them. The seedy hotel is also an effective setting.

However, Wit’s jerkweed behavior gets to be a real buzzkill. The guests’ acquiescence is also the film’s biggest credibility issue—it is hard to believe every single guest obediently refrains from calling the cops after the first incident—unless it is all meant as a commentary on society’s compliance during the pandemic—in which case it is spot on. After all, it is not by coincidence this film is set during Covid-times.

Regardless, the stars are obviously the creature and the ‘pedes. This is not a great showcase for classically-trained acting talent, but everyone does just fine under the circumstances. Chanya McClory is solid as the ailing Fame, but Mike Angelo’s constant brooding as Leo might try viewers’ patience a little. However, Plai Paramej Nolam is surprisingly touching as Leo’s father.

So, if you fondly remember all this quarantine business from 2020 then by all means, vote for Trump again. Krileadmongkon and Wongjinga bring it all back quite vividly, but they add the massing throngs of centipedes. It is a pretty entertaining monster movie and maybe even some incisive cultural-historical commentary. Recommended for fans of insectoid horror,
Creepy Crawly releases Tuesday (10/3) on DVD and BluRay.