“A New Breed of Evil”
Directed by Joe Knee
Starring Corin Nemec, Dominika Juillet and Benjamin Easterday
When her father disappears, entomologist Gina Humphries (Juillet) takes her best friend and a military team led by going-native Captain John Hammond (Nemec) and his 2IC Meyers (Easterday) into the Mexican jungle to look for him. Here, they uncover a corporate conspiracy to create a breed of fire-breathing giant wasps, and are caught between the wasps and a band of voodoo drug growers led by the psychopathic Jaguar.
What’s wrong with it?
Like most SyFy Channel creature features, Dragon Wasps is incredibly cheap, and heavily reliant on CGI. Not only are the wasps themselves pretty lame, every explosion and every bullet impact is CGd.
There were clearly a few changes in running order late in the day, as the pistol Hammond gives to Gina disappears for a while.
The history between Hammond and the cartel is never really explored, in particular, it’s not clear why Jaguar calls him ‘Beastman’*, which is super-confusing since he does so more often than anyone calls him Hammond. I just figured it was his name.
What’s right with it?
The performances, if not Oscar-worthy, are not terrible, and the terrible CGI action sequences are spaced out with humorous character moments. Also, cheap horror is hard to do, but insects laying eggs in people is a reliable trigger.
How bad is it really?
Dragon Wasps is a blast. It knows it’s bad, so it has some fun, but without being all wink-at-the-camera or cheesy.
Best bit (if such there is)?
Discovering that coca paste repels the wasps, the leads spend the second half of the movie slightly high from rubbing coca leaves on their skin. At the denoument, they discover that they are out of leaves but that Gina has accidentally brought a dozen bricks of import grade cocaine from the cartel compound after mistaking it for C4.
Gina: The good news is, it’s super potent.
Meyers: And the bad news?
Gina: It’s super potent.
What’s up with…?
- ‘Nature’s Napalm?’ How does a fire-based chemical defence make sense for a species living in a densely forested environment? I guess they were engineered.
- Jaguar’s crazy voodoo cartel? They’re lifted whole-cloth from Predator 2 and I can’t see how they would be a credible threat given their extremely skewed weirdness-to-professionalism ratio.
- Name-dropping Mansquito and Sand Sharks? Man, monster movies just got meta.
Production values – Cheap and cheerful, which at least means that it’s cheerful. 12
Dialogue and performances – The script is basic stuff, but with enough humour to carry it, and the players deliver it straight, never mugging for the camera or winking at the audience. This is the work of solid pros earning their supper. 6
Plot and execution – Sets up its premises and works them through. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but again, it neither pretends to be, nor makes any claim to be a satire when it isn’t. It does the job it came here to do. 10
Randomness – Beastman? Voodoo cartels? Fire-breathing wasps? Okay, that last one is pretty much in the title. 11
Waste of potential – Oh, if only all creature features did their job this well! 3
* In retrospect, it might have been ‘police man’.