Killer Bees (2002)

Killer Bees (2002)

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He was incredibly suspicious of that ladder. Who had put it there? Why was it there? The mysteries were endless.
He was incredibly suspicious of that ladder. Who had put it there? Why was it there? The mysteries were endless.

Twitter Plot Summary: A rural town in Washington state comes under attack from killer bees. The local sheriff has to help stop the attack.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama/Family/Horror/Thriller

Director: Penelope Buitenhuis

Key Cast: C Thomas Howell, Tracy Nelson, Fiona Loewi, Noel Fisher, Emily Tennant, Doug Abrahams, Michael Eklund, Natasha Wilson, Tom Heaton, Chris Lovick, Michael P Northey

Five Point Summary:

1. He’s escaping in a truck! Oh noes!
2. The locals are naturally hesitant to stop their bees pollinating. It’s the middle of pollination season, dammit!
3. So what’s up with the mayor’s wig, anyway?
4. Will anybody actually listen to this guy? How much more evidence does he need?
5. OH GOD! NOT THE BEES! NOT THE… oh, sorry – wrong film.

Despite the title, it’s most certainly not in the same vein as the likes of Roger Corman’s creature features, or the equally “so bad they’re good” features from The Asylum or SyFy. No, Killer Bees makes the mistake of taking an almost too serious tone, and moving the focus of the story to the sheriff, his family and his possible romance with bee specialist Riley. But we know that’s probably not going to go anywhere because she has M.S. Nice one, script writers.

C Thomas Howell – he who played “Jack’s Father” in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Day The Earth Stopped, as well as more notably appearing as one of the kids in E.T. – is Sheriff Lyndon Harris in a small town in Washington state. He’s estranged from his wife but still directly involved in raising their two children. Meanwhile a species of bee not seen in that area of the world – the famed killer bee – invades the area and starts bumping off a few people and some cattle. Other than the very serious take on the killer creature sub-genre, it does very much play to expectations – a creature that has the potential to ramp up our inherent phobia (bees), a hero or team of heroes investigating the disturbance (the sheriff and bee expert), an obligatory issue involving either the hero’s family or friendship with a current of former colleague (estranged from wife, kids don’t understand why), and a group of locals and/or an authority figure who refuses to believe that there’s a genuine problem until it’s far too late (the mayor and the local bee keepers).

"Nobody puts sheriff in the corner."
“Nobody puts sheriff in the corner.”

For the first two thirds we follow Sheriff Harris as he attempts to persuade everybody that a major problem is on its way, but naturally nobody listens. The mayor doesn’t want to cause panic, and as it’s pollination season the local bee keepers don’t want to potentially lose out on any money. Then people start dying and the tone starts to unravel, because once the bees start their attack (with no malice intended, of course – they’re just bees and we’re in the way), that’s when things start to move into typical creature feature territory. An old woman is trapped inside her home with just a shotgun to protect her, and the local community are involved in an open-air fete that has the potential for disaster.

It’s a story we’ve seen hundreds of times before, but usually with the silly factor multiplied by 100. Killer Bees deserves praise for choosing to do something a little different, albeit without breaking the established pattern. There’s also no tension within the family structure – the sheriff’s son is slightly distant but not to the same extent seen elsewhere. As such, it ends up being just a touch boring in that the only source of conflict tends to come from the mayor. However because of this extended focus on the family dynamic, it’s nowhere near as bad as other similarly themed movies, and stands as one that is moderately entertaining but not exceptional.

Favourite scene: The finale, where all the lessons we’ve learned about controlling bees comes to the fore.

Quote: “I’ll send the coroner for him – let’s get out of here before the bees come back!”

Silly Moment: The mayor’s obvious toupee. Serious film but an undercurrent of daftness.

Score: 2.5/5

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