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Skeeter Reviews

An update of old-fashioned "big bug" movies, SKEETER makes a commendable effort to accommodate a dramatic human story but gives horror short shrift in the process. The southwestern town of Clear Sky is undergoing massive changes thanks to ruthless developer Drake (Jay Robinson), who is buying out residents' properties and secretly dumping toxic waste in a nearby abandoned mine. The spills have spawned a swarm of oversized mosquitoes that kill two young brothers; local sheriff Buckle (Charles Napier), who is secretly in cahoots with Drake, sends deputies Boone (Jim Youngs) and Tucker (Eloy Casados) to look for the boys. Already suspicious about mysterious livestock deaths in the area, Boone has called in environmental agent Gordon Perry (William Sanderson) to test the local water. He's further distracted when his old girlfriend Sarah (Tracy Griffith) returns to town for her mother's funeral. The dead boys' father is killed and their sister rendered catatonic by a mosquito attack, and other locals fall victim as well. Though disillusioned over what's happening to the town (her father is being pressured to sell his land), Sarah rekindles her relationship with Boone. A superior of Gordon's, evidently under Drake's sway, tries to force Gordon to abandon his research; Boone is kidnapped by Drake's thugs, but they're killed by the mosquitoes before Boone's eyes. Gordon and Sarah discover the bugs' nest in the mine; Buckle arrives to silence them but is killed by the insects. Sarah is trapped and Gordon escapes to alert Boone, who, after a shoot-out with more of Drake's goons, is able to rescue Sarah and blow up the mine. Sarah and Tucker prepare to leave town, but Boone resolves to stay to continue the fight against Drake. After the bittersweet dramatic closing scene fades out, SKEETER's "scary" end-title music almost seems out of place, since the horror element is only a minor part of the movie. Director/co-writer Clark Brandon clearly aimed for more than cheap thrills here, with an attention to character detail not often found in pictures of this type. Given the professionalism with which this film was made, Brandon probably feels he's slumming in the genre on his way to dealing with more "serious" material. There's nothing wrong with trying to inject real humanity and characterization into a low-budget genre piece, of course, but this is supposed to be a horror film, after all. It doesn't help that, thanks to occasionally cheesy special effects, the skeeters are more silly than scary. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)