Polish director Filip Jan Rymsza hasn’t released a new feature since 2007’s Dustclouds. But, ironically, that’s the year his latest feature, MOSQUITO STATE, is set. This time, the topic of choice is the infamous financial crisis of the aforementioned year juxtaposed with a freak mosquito plague. Rymsza also co-wrote the film alongside Mario Zermeno. Stars include Beau Knapp, Charlotte Vega, Olivier Martinez, and Jack Kesy.
MOSQUITO STATE opens with an artsy, appealing title sequence by graphics master Dan Perri. The viewer is treated to microscopic close-ups of the mosquito’s life stages – egg, larva, pupa, and imago (adult). The effect is one of discomfort, especially when intercut with Victorian sketches of various biological functions. You’ll see the four mosquito life stages again, as they’re also the names of the film’s four chapters.
Soon after, we’re introduced to the matriarch of the soon-to-be mosquito swarm as she makes her way through the New York City drainage system, into the streets, and finally through the window of a well-to-do brokerage firm where an upscale social event is taking place. Eventually, the mosquito chooses to land on the neck of one Richard Boca (Knapp), a successful data analyst who’s the star performer at this particular firm, as he is responsible for a revolutionary data system called Honeybee.
While at the party, Richard meets wine bar owner, Lena (Vega). After a bit of flirtation, Richard and Lena wind up back at his place – a sprawling penthouse with a killer view of Central Park. They partake in one of the high-end bottles of wine Richard collects for investment reasons and spend some time together before Lena leaves in the wee hours of the morning.
Meanwhile, the mosquito that also came home with Richard retreats to a glass of water to lay her eggs. From there, it doesn’t take long for the swarm to grow and for Richard himself to become grotesquely transformed by repeated mosquito bites. However, he also continues showing up at the firm and soon becomes troubled by some crazy market fluctuations he didn’t see coming. His colleagues ignore his warnings to stop trading, and it’s strongly implied that these are the people responsible for the crisis of ’07.
Richard continues to descend into madness and physical illness as the mosquitos in his apartment continue to breed, as well as feed on him. The result is a twisted tale that is not necessarily scary so much as it’s artistically chilling and elegant.
MOSQUITO STATE is not an attempt to make an intellectual statement on the financial events of 2007. It isn’t genuinely attempting to explain them, either, although the situation is presented as a sort of karmic reason why the mosquitos may have chosen Richard as their first victim. Someone has to pay for such things in a story like this, and he’s as good a victim as anyone.
This is nothing if not a lush film. It’s beautifully shot and set off to perfection with a stunning, symphonic score by Cezary Skubiszewski plus the occasional techno ditty for contrast. The effects in MOSQUITO STATE are very well-done, as well, thanks to a balanced mix of modern VFX and old-school prosthetics.
MOSQUITO STATE will undoubtedly impress on many levels, especially if you’re into arthouse horror that claims to have something to say. But if you’re looking for genuine scares or suspense-filled storytelling, you’ve come to the wrong place. The storytelling is a bit thin here, especially toward the end, as is the character development. You’re never really given a good reason to care about Richard or feel much investment in the outcome of his run-in with the mosquitos, but it’s interesting enough to watch it play out.
That said, the next time you’re in the mood to watch a man succumb to a mosquito plague, check this one out. Just take it with a grain of salt and accept it for what it is.
MOSQUITO STATE is now available exclusively on Shudder.