MOSQUITO STATE (2020)
Directed by Filip Jan Rymsza.
Written by Filip Jan Rymsza, Mario Zermeno.
Starring Beau Knapp, Charlotte Vega, Jack Kesy, Olivier Martinez, Audrey Wasilewski, Daisy Bishop, Dominika Kachlik, Maximilian Kubiak
Richard Boca (Beau Knapp) is a shy data analyst for a tech company who falls deeper and deeper into a life of seclusion and insanity after he is bitten by a mosquito. Instead of killing the pest, he allows the blood-sucking bug to live and breed and soon he has a swarm of mosquitoes in his apartment. As his sanity fades, he becomes more and more obsessed with the mosquitoes and less interested in the looming stock market crash.
MOSQUITO STATE is one weird little biscuit. It’s a descent into madness story and I love those, especially when the descent is slow, gradual, and somewhat believable. Given the enormous pressure Richard is under and the fact that he obviously has mental issues even from the beginning, his trip to Crazy Town is relatable even though his madness is quite bizarre. MOSQUITO STATE reminds me most of WILLARD where a picked on outcast attains power by befriending millions of rats. Richard just does so with mosquitoes and just as Willard was a flawed, but sympathetic protagonist, so is Richard. Beau Knapp doesn’t necessarily make Richard likable. In fact, he offers up a wonderful performance of an uncomfortable and unfortunate soul with his slouched posture, mumbling tone, and avoidant stares. Knapp also gives him a peculiar way of talking that isn’t that different from the way Nic Cage talked in VAMPIRE’S KISS. It’s a really great performance that shows that Knapp is a star on the rise.
Charlotte Vega is also great here as the closest thing to a girlfriend Richard has ever had. She plays an employee at a wine shop who is at first intrigued by Richard’s peculiarity, but soon finds that his eccentricities run much deeper. Vega is gorgeous and holds her own against Knapp’s powerful lead performance and a swarm of mosquitoes. It’s also nice to see UNFAITHFUL’s Olivier Martinez as Richard’s swarthy business partner. Though I haven’t seen him in much lately, he still does smarmy well.
There are some strange effects going on with MOSQUITO STATE. Apparently, Richard begins letting the mosquitoes feed off of him and the swollen bite marks on his face and body will definitely cause some potent wincing. It did for me. The effects shots of the millions of mosquitoes is also quite convincing. This is a movie that’ll make you itch in places you didn’t know existed. The mosquitoes crawl all over Richard and dart away when he moves. It’s something that occurs a few times in the movie, but you won’t be able to unsee it after watching. These effects and Knapp’s performance make this a movie that’ll guarantee squirms and gasps a plenty.
That said, the story itself is rather disappointing by the end. I truly didn’t know how this one was going to end, but the ending they went with, while poetic, felt a bit shallow and unsatisfying. There is some wonderfully surreal imagery and I guess it was trying to make a point about the blood-sucking nature of the stock market, but I just don’t think the film landed with what it was trying to say. MOSQUITO STATE exists as a wonderful character study of a very flawed man with a broken mind. There are some great musical choices of meditative music and many of the scenes are beautiful to look at, but ultimately, Knapp and Vega’s performances and the close-up imagery of the mosquitoes evolving and growing are the reasons to take a chance with the film.