Creepy, beautifully designed horror yarn about mutant roaches that delivers both artfully eerie atmosphere and some boffo shocks. A polio-like epidemic has New York City in a stranglehold: Children are dying and there's no cure, so the decision is made to get
really tough on the carriers, common cockroaches. Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) engineers the Judas breed, toxic bugs that infiltrate the normal roach population with lethal results. The Judas bugs are all sterile, and have genetically determined, six-month life spans... or so everyone
thinks. Long before the grim Dr. Gates (F. Murray Abraham) calls the Judas bugs "little Frankensteins," the lesson is clear, and whether you find the set up classic or cliched really depends on how much you like this sort of thing. Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro's distinctly European
sensibilities are perfectly attuned to the demands of a nightmarish fairy-tale, simultaneously sentimental and cruel. Horror hard-liners probably won't cotton to shoe-shine Manny (Giancarlo Giannini) and his grandson (Alexander Goodwin), an angelically remote child who twists wire into weird
figurines and imitates sounds with spoons, but be warned -- just because Del Toro is sentimental about children doesn't mean he's squeamish. Mostly, though, it's the images that stay with you: A hospital room lined with small, softly illuminated beds, each beautifully draped with netting and
concealing a sick, gasping child; A dark figure standing at the end of a deserted subway platform; A low-angle shot of pedestrians walking across a circular subway grating while Dr. Tyler, trapped in a fetid tunnel far below, screams futilely for help. This is the evidence that his haunting,
offbeat CRONOS wasn't a fluke, and should signal the start of a major U.S. genre career.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: Creepy, beautifully designed horror yarn about mutant roaches that delivers both artfully eerie atmosphere and some boffo shocks. A polio-like epidemic has New York City in a stranglehold: Children are dying and there's no cure, so the decision is made to… (more)