If you’re a fan of cannibal hillbilly movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but kind of wished they had an extra kick like a giant man-eating bug, then The Millennium Bug will be right up your alley. It’s kind of a Wrong Turn-meets-Tremors mash-up that is just enough fun to be surprisingly entertaining. This indie horror film contains no stars (not even one somewhat-known name actually), and an intentional absence of CGI special effects. Instead Kenneth Cran, who wrote and directed, relies on old-school practical effects. He manages to make good use of them, creating a tense, yet fun, horror film. The Millennium Bug isn’t a classic, but as straight-to-video horror films go, it’s not bad at all.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, when everyone was in a panic over the possible Y2K bug, widower Byron Haskin (Jon Briddel) is taking his new wife Joany (Jessica Simons) and teenage daughter Clarissa (Christine Haeberman) on a camping trip. They setup their tents in a remote section of the forest just in time to ring in the new millennium. Unfortunately for them, they’re not so far away from a family of inbred hillbillies who are looking to expand their gene pool. All hell breaks loose when the oldest boy of the Crawford clan, Billa (John Charles Meyer), sets his sights on taking young Clarissa as his bride. The clan forcibly kidnaps the family and sets about preparing for the nuptials.
At the same time a researcher, Roger Patterson (Ken MacFarlane), is searching for a bug that only reaches maturity and comes above ground every 1000 years. Get it? It’s an actual “millennium bug.” Even more hell breaks loose when all of these elements are thrown together in a big gory battle. This is not a film that takes itself all that seriously. The hillbillies are suitably over-the-top, there is plenty of blood to please the gore fans, and the giant monster-bug is actually pretty scary. The bug is primarily a man in a suit, and it works pretty well. The hillbilly makeup leaves a little to be desired. Billa basically looks like a disheveled Eddie Vedder, and the sister (or cousin, I guess we don’t know) Pearlene (Ginger Pullman) basically just needs to wash her face. Okay, when she takes off her shirt, things look a little strange, but otherwise she looks pretty normal.
This film doesn’t attempt to break any new ground. It takes all the usual horror clichés and runs with them. The good thing about it is the film moves along a quick pace, with just enough tension and humor to keep the viewer hooked. Being both a monster and murderous hillbilly movie gives a little something more than if it was just one or the other. So, it’s not great, but not bad. It’s just enjoyable enough to make for a “just for fun” viewing. I did, however, find the “twist” ending disappointing. It was so predictable it could hardly be called a twist.
The DVD, with an image framed at 1.78:1, features a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. There’s a conversational commentary with director Kenneth Cran, producer James Cran, and production designer Dustin Yoder. A handful of deleted scenes (wisely cut) and a making-of featurette round out the special features.