‘Mosquito State’ Review: Bugging Out

Borne along on the whine of insects and a lead performance of surpassing strangeness, “Mosquito State” is a disquieting merger of body horror and social commentary.

It’s the summer of 2007, a global financial meltdown is imminent and Richard Boca (a disconcerting Beau Knapp), a wealthy Wall Street analyst, is attending a black-tie party. When he leaves, he will have a stunning young student (Charlotte Vega) on his arm and a female mosquito on his neck; he will fully bond with only one of them.

From its gorgeous opening credits to a peculiarly poignant and lyrical finale, this mesmerically slow-moving tale (directed by Filip Jan Rymsza and written by Rymsza and Mario Zermeno) works to forge a fragile link between psychic and societal breakdowns. Richard may be an algorithm savant, but his colleagues refuse to listen when his computer model warns of looming market instability. Holed up in his cavernous penthouse, all brutalist décor and dim lighting, he fumes, consoled only by the buzzing mosquito whose bites are transforming his body and whose offspring are rapidly colonizing his home.

Arranged in chapters named for the insect’s stages of development (egg, larva, pupa, imago), “Mosquito State” has a dreamlike, almost dazed quality, pierced by moments of disturbing beauty. Admirable for its total refusal to ingratiate, the movie nurtures an unapologetically hostile vibe that gradually relents alongside Richard’s deterioration. Like Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” (1986), he’s a grotesque alliance of two species; yet watching him in his apartment, the mosquitoes a milky cloud above his head or a black swarm feeding off his supine body, we see a man who has chosen the bloodsucking life form he prefers.

Mosquito State
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Watch on Shudder.

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