One thing I find really annoying with lower budget movies is that they have this unwarranted need to overuse CGI for their special effects. For example, literally any movie that has been created by or for the SyFy channel generally has overdone, gaudy special effects that do little in the way of scaring (or even intriguing) the viewer as opposed to making them laugh, groan or both. The Millennium Bug escapes this modern tradition by using zero CGI for special effects whatsoever. It was nice to see this throwback to a different era of horror movie where monsters required people to have a bit more of an artistic flair because quite frankly that technology hadnâ€™t been invented yet.
Set on Dec 31st, 1999, the movie begins with a blurb talking about the Y2K bug (remember that, when nothing happened?), referring to it as the apocalypse. For the Haskin family (Byron, his new wife Joany and his daughter Clarissa) there is just too much hysteria surrounding the event that they choose to get away from it all on a camping trip to ring in the new year.
As they head further into the woods, the local game warden watches them drive by. We stay with the game warden for a little while, long enough for him to catch a poacher in the middle of dragging a deer. Itâ€™s not deer season and this game warden takes his job seriously. So serious, in fact, that he attacks the poacher and is about to kill him when a shadowy figure knocks him out from behind.
Weâ€™re brought back to the Haskin family. At this point in the movie, I have to admit that the acting is a bit granola. It felt almost as if everyone was just handed the script five minutes before shooting began. It does get a bit better but up until now it just seems like actors going through the motions without any feeling. Anyhow, during their discussion, it is revealed that they are going to an abandoned ghost town, Masonâ€™s Grove, which requires a ten mile hike in order to reach it. Sure, this sounds like a much better alternative to sitting at home and waiting out Y2K â€“ but then again it is a horror movie and common sense in horror movies is a rare commodity.
We rejoin the game warden just as he is regaining consciousness. As he takes in his surroundings he sees the poacherâ€™s deer still being dragged and follows it long enough to watch it be dragged completely into the ground. He isnâ€™t given very much time to ponder this as he too is dragged into the ground by the same unseen force which took the deer, and in a very graphically violent and gory manner. This was pretty cool.
Up next we meet the Crawford family. Our initial introduction to them is in their ramshackle cabin where Pearlene is giving birth. Once the little bundle of joy has been delivered it is revealed that it is deformed and the decision is made to take it outside and shoot it in the head. You see, the Crawfords are a family of inbred hillbillies, desperate to continue the family name, but not via a deformity. Pearleneâ€™s cries for them to give her back her baby go unheard as a single gunshot rings out in the night.
After this, we are introduced to the final character of major significance in the movie, Roger Patterson, a scientist who is filming a documentary in the woods. Heâ€™s been noticing a lot of unusual seismic activity in the area and while investigating closer to what he believes is the source of the unnatural movements finds a skull in the dirt.
The focus returns to the Haskin family at their campsite. Byron has rigged up Christmas lights to a battery, midnight has come and gone. It is officially the year 2000 and the world did not implode. While they sleep peacefully, members of the Crawford family suddenly attack, tying them up in their tents and dragging them away from their campsite. Byron and Joany awaken to find themselves locked in a room. Through a hole in the wall they can see Clarissa in a wedding dress and realize that the plan is for Clarissa to be married to Billa Crawford in order to produce a non-deformed baby to carry on the Crawford name. Joany manages to escape and as she is running through the woods, hears singing, which she follows. What she finds is Pearlene cradling her dead baby, but she is abruptly grabbed and brought back to the Crawford shack.
Roger thinks he may have found something but is interrupted by a massive explosion from the ground. This is felt by everyone in the surrounding area, including the Crawfords and the Haskins. The monster is finally above ground and hungry. From here on out the Haskin family must fight for survival not only against their hillbilly captors, but against a giant monster of unknown origin.
There were some really well thought out special effects in The Millennium Bug. Grandma Crawford taking an axe to the face was a standout moment for me. Additionally, eyeballs popping out of the skulls of people being eaten by a giant monster were a nice little treat as well. It kind of made up for the thrown together feel of the acting and dialogue. One of the most frightening scenes in the movie includes a topless Pearlene â€“ and itâ€™s not pretty.
If youâ€™re looking for a fun little B movie, The Millennium Bug probably wonâ€™t let you down. The storyline is pretty original despite the Tremors feel that it might have toward the beginning. It definitely gets an A in the gore and creativity departments. Sometimes all you really need is some gore and creativity to have a good time with a movie.