I was fortunate enough to attend the US premiere of Infestation, a nifty science fiction story with just the right amount of comedy, terrific performances by stars new and old, and snappy dialogue. Although it was made on what amounts to a "shoestring" (less than $5 million), you'd never know it from the great cinematography (by Thomas Ackerman of Beetle Juice and Anchorman fame), silky (no pun intended) special effects (from newcomer/phenom Efram Potelle), and a crisp, fast-moving script (by director Kyle Rankin).
Chris Marquette (as main character, Cooper) is by turns endearing and heroic. At times seeming to channel Shia Labeouf (without the "no, no, no, no, no's"), he comes across as both real and genuinely charming, and his transformation from phone rep (today's factory worker) to an against-all-odds hero holds the center of the movie. Ray Wise gets off some great one liners as his dad, Ethan, and Dale Simonton is memorable as a boss who's up to his ears with telemarketing slackers. (Oddly and disappointingly, Simonton's character simply disappears after a dramatic entrance.)
Of course, Infestation isn't perfect. The underlying story has "echoes" from quite a few other films, and sometimes it's hard to distinguish between an "homage" and a copy. For example, there's more than a bit of Alien (and Aliens) in the mix, both in terms of visual imagery and the presentation and organization of the "things" doing the infesting. Yet, Infestation comes across as a charming spoof that incorporates notions from a variety of science fiction films in a playful and knowing nod to serious stuff that's come before it. In addition, the groups' journey from the city to the scene of their final encounter wasn't as suspenseful as it should have been. If it had a bit more of the out-of-control sense of danger in Shaun of the Dead, I think it would have been a better film for it.
I can't review this movie without a nod to the ending. Of all the ways Infestation could have, shall we say, landed, the final scene -- which I won't give away -- is pretty damn perfect. I'll just let you experience it.