Cicada (2018) Review
After dealing up a batch of alien possessed sharks in Shark Encounters of the Third Kind, Wild Eye Releasing is back with giant cicadas in, what else, Cicada. For those unfamiliar with them, cicadas are North American insects that burrow into the ground after hatching and stay there for seventeen years. Then they emerge to mate and die, kind of like teenagers.
Writer/director David Willis (Open Doors, Angel Business Time) gives us a crop of the bugs mutated by experimental fertilizer. Now they’re hungry for human blood and much larger than usual. Not as large as the cicada creature in The Beast Within, though. And, unlike that film, this is a comedy.
Cicada actually starts out like a sports drama. After a pep talk from his coach, little Johnny Bash (Sam Graci-Glazer) gets over his fear of being hit by a pitch and becomes a little league all-star. Grown-up Johnny (Jeffrey Ryan Kent, Only the Brave, Man, Moment, Machine) becomes a big-league star until scandal brings him down. Now he’s broke and living off of his stripper girlfriend Cindy (Cassandra Hein, Alien Hunger, Save a Slut).
Just when he thinks things can’t get much worse, Nelson (Mike Nielsen, Southland Tales, Hard Crime) comes running into the bar screaming about giant cicadas. Now it’s up to the three of them and bartender Randy (Beau Crawford, Detective Voss, Breaking & Entering) to save LA.
If you’ve seen the trailer for Cicada, then you know the effects are awful. At first, I thought it was the usual curse of no-budget CGI. Then I saw the model helicopter getting attacked by the bugs. There’s no way that could be anything but intentionally bad effects. Some of it, like the soldier who gets torn to pieces, is amusingly awful. Much of it just looks like any other low budget film.
The humour in Cicada is all over the place. A clergyman in the strip club, convinced God is punishing the city for his boner. Conspiracy theories about why the army has quarantined the city. Johnny, not noticing Cindy, is all over the initially reluctant Randy. There are also assorted attempts at “funny” mayhem, such as a three-legged dog trying to escape the creatures. Hearing “Yeah, I guess you are getting fucked tonight” as the creepy dude from the strip club gets the cicada’s blood sucker up his ass. There’s something for, and probably something to offend, everyone.
I grinned a lot more than I laughed at Cicada’s jokes. Willis seems to have overestimated how funny the bad effects would be, and the cartoonish scenes of people being ripped apart grow repetitive fast. The same with horrible CGI explosions, especially once our heroes discover the cicadas are flying bombs. I could also have done without the limp-wristed gay stereotypes among the random victims.
In the end, Cicada isn’t another Big Ass Spider. But, thankfully, it isn’t another Lavalantula either. It’s not a great comedy, but it’s certainly funnier than most of what passes for it on TV these days.