Director: Louis Morneau
So, I like a good movie about people being attacked by animals. This is that. It will not surprise you that Bats (1999) is about bats. Attacking people. And the people who are quite cross that they are being attacked by bats.
Mutant bats, but bats.
So, anyway, it's about pretty much nothing else. There's no real sub-text. It's just a movie about trying to stop bats from eating you and the medley of challenges that arise in the pursuit of stopping bats. No intentional analogies, but it IS about bats with a weaponized virus that is accidentally released, and threatens to doom humanity if not contained and.... ehhhhh..... that reads pretty weird here in 2023.
It borrows heavily from Alien and Aliens from sound FX to character choices. The bats are shown in close-up, they are terrific puppets, and I have no notes. Love the bats. Well done. The movie never lets itself think it needs sub-plots, so expect no romance. But I do think they must have decided to do some green-screened insert shots in a few dialog bits, because it really seems like the lighting is weird and the characters are shot in a weird single mid-shot dead center of the frame dropping jokes or whatever. Maybe the first go-round was too grim for what it was?
This isn't a criticism, but Lou Diamond Phillips was featured less prominently than I'd figured or hoped for - he's in it, but he's featured supporting. Our star is Dina Meyer, who was having a moment in Hollywood, but they chose to straighten her magnificent curls, and I am against that decision.
|she's lovely here, but just sort of bleeds into the wall-paper of 1990's young female white-girl actors|
|just look at those spectacular locks|
Anyway - I actually liked the movie! It did what I hoped it would do. It didn't weigh itself down with misguided moralizing, and it set up an internal logic and stuck to it. Animals got the upper hand for a while and the puppets were neat.
There's probably more to say about Dina Meyer as a star, but we'll save that for another day. And certainly LDP, who is always good. And there's a dissertation worth of discussion about the mononymous Leon playing "Jimmy" and the role of African-American males in horror and horror-adjacent films, especially in the late 90's as audiences expected tropes to be addressed.
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