Thursday, August 2, 2012

Deranged - A Review

Y'know, who hasn't read an article somewhere about the zombie fungus that drives ants up trees, or other weird parasites that alter the behaviors of various and sundry critters and thought, what if something like that were to infect people?  To be honest, I'm surprised Syfy hasn't jumped on it already, starring Cyndi Lauper or something.  No, it was the Koreans who have successfully tapped that well for the first time, with an interesting little movie entitled, Deranged.

Taking a Dick Wolf-esque, "ripped from the headlines" approach, the movie takes the very real Horsehair Worm, specifically Spinochordodes tellinii and unleashes it upon mankind.  All Horsehair Worms are fundamentally atrocious, but Spinochordodes tellinii is especially so.  "Normal" Horsehair Worms are content to just grow inside different insects and sealife, leaching them of their nutrients and killing them as they hatch.  Spinochordodes tellinii  though, gives it's host the added bonus of releasing chemicals which drive the infected to seek out the nearest body of water and leap into it.  There the worms abandon the body via whatever orifice is handy, mate, deposit eggs in the water, and start the horrific circle of life all over again.

So what happens when these start to infect humans? 

PANIC!

Bodies start popping up in rivers and lakes, folks are downing bottled water like it's going out of style, and then drowning themselves in everything from bathtubs to fishtanks.  Things only get worse when it's discovered that this mutant strain kills the host when exposed to vermicide.  At first the medical community is puzzled, until it turns out that one particular brand of vermicide works.  Unfortunately, that brand was discontinued due to poor sales, leaving the protagonist to search with increasing desperation, and fail to obtain them due to increasingly improbable coincidences and turns of fate. 

The government becomes more and more authoritarian, going from "We're quarantining you for your own protection", to "We're taking away your cellphones because... um... we're concerned about public safety?"  Evil corporations get involved, and, well, to be honest the whole thing sorta goes off the rails a bit towards the end, and the SHOCK! last shot is just silly.

But at the core of all of this is a solid idea, and the first hour or so delivers a solid Robin Cook style medical thriller.  Definitely more Outbreak than Contagion, though. 

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