David Yarovesky’s latest shocker The Hive is loosely inspired by the famous John Carpenter flick They Live. However, instead of consumerism being the great big bad, the world in The Hive is being enslaved through our obsession with social media. You would be forgiven in thinking that this premise seemingly echoes that of a certain Cody Calahan franchise but The Hive is fundamentally different.
The plot follows Adam, a councillor at a summer camp as he wakes up with amnesia. Taking notes from Guy Pearce’s character in Memento, he tries to piece together what is happening from the notes around his barricaded cabin. Once the plot is fully developed he comes to realise that his friends have been taken over by a sinister virus. Infected himself, he is thrust into a battle to save his loved ones before the virus fully consumes him.
As Adam, Gabriel Basso (The Kings of Summer) does a great job in carrying the film and his performance is actually decent. He’s likeable as the kid-next-door type and delivers the goods correctly when scenes call for his character to flip between his ‘infected’ phase and his ‘lucid’ moments. These moments could have looked hilariously bad but Basso nails them and keeps up the serious tone of the film.
The rest of the cast deliver equally acceptable performances but are overshadowed by the presentation of the film. Taking all the tropes of an average zombie infection film, Yarovesky injects a hefty dose of sci-fi to deliver a fast-paced thriller that strives to be different. Presented as a puzzle for audiences to solve, The Hive’s non-linear narrative becomes clear through a series of flashbacks. This was fun and interesting at first but, over time, becomes a little messy.
The lighting of the film is stylish and is done under black light and quick edits. No single shot lasts longer than ten seconds which gives the film a music video feel and with this comes a huge problem. After being subjected to constant flashes of bright light over a sustained period of time became utterly frustrating and did nothing but cause me to develop a headache in the process.
On the flipside, speaking of visuals the effects in this film are superb. Similar in style to SFX employed in the Evil Dead remake in 2014, I absolutely loved the work done here. There was plenty of gore and lots of prosthetic work which looked remarkable on screen. This is where the visuals of the film truly shine as the makeup team does a fantastic job to bring Yarovesky’s nightmare world to life. It’s just a shame that this is marred by the presentation of the film as a whole.
Overall, The Hive has MTV stamped all over it, which is surprising as they had no involvement whatsoever. That said, expect cheesy romance, cheap jump scares and an over-reliance on flashy visuals throughout. Sometimes this works in its favour but for the majority of the time it does not. This was a shame as there are a couple of moments which were unbearably tense to watch. If you are curious about this film I do recommend checking it out because The Hive still remains a unique visual experience in its own right.
Words: Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)