Friday, April 27, 2012
The film’s rather dark yet playful sense of humor is apparent right from the start as two kids’ late night bull-tipping session in an attempt to impress a couple of girls leads to the first accidental discovery of a species of fluke-like parasites. Dr. Eli Rudkus (Vincent Ventresca) is the new veterinarian in the small town of Host, having replaced the old one who mysteriously retired. His first house call is to the farm of Jacob Young (William Forsythe) who has a sick cow and casually meets Eli at the front door with a loaded shotgun. He soon gets Jacob’s grudging respect after witnessing how the doctor deals with his sick animal. According to the rancher, his cattle eat feed supplied for free by Tender Meats and in turn they supply the corporation with meat from their farms.
While studying the parasites, Eli discovers that they absorb blood which causes them to grow in size and transform into lethal bat-like creatures. He attends a Tender Meats fundraiser hosted by the glad-handing president Fletcher Odermatt (David Selby) whose new feed and the meat it produces may not exactly be legal. He’s also not too thrilled to meet Eli without having been told about his arrival beforehand. Eli also meets Tender Meats beautiful, no-nonsense corporate lawyer Hayley Anderson (Rachel Hunter) whom he takes an instant shine to but she remains aloof.
In keeping with SyFy Channel movie tradition, Larva is populated by lesser known T.V. actors (Ventresca), B-movie character actors (Forsythe and Selby) and an ex-supermodel turned actress (Hunter) who all acquit themselves quite well considering the pulpy subject matter. In particular, Vincent Ventresca and William Forsythe play well off each other with the former as a mild-mannered doctor who springs into action once the nasty parasite threat becomes prominent and the latter with his gravelly voice, badass attitude and a secret stash of weapons that would make Charlton Heston proud. Forsythe plays a gruff yet sympathetic farmer and it is great to see the underrated actor, known for playing heavies, in a rare heroic role yet still giving it his trademark grizzled spin. Ventresca, known mostly for playing Fun Bobby on the Friends sitcom and starring in the short-lived The Invisible Man series, is good as the honest vet who that decides to blow the whistle on Tender Meats once he realizes what’s going on. The journeyman actor comes across as instantly sympathetic and it’s hard not to root for his character.
The great David Selby (Dark Shadows) sinks his teeth into a juicy villain role as the venal Fletcher. He even gets a funny dinner scene where he utters weird monster sounds to amuse his son in a moment that feels like it was an improvised bit. It doesn’t have anything to do with the story but Selby is able to humanize Fletcher a little bit. His character mostly cares about the almighty buck and his comeuppance is quite satisfying. Rachel Hunter is just fine in an under-written role as a hot shot lawyer that eventually teams up with Eli and Jacob. Hayley isn’t some cliché damsel in distress but gets to mix it up with the boys and even kick a little ass.