Mosquito State, directed by Filip Jan Rymsza, is a supremely odd movie. From the opening credits, which alternate between microscopic images and illustrations of the life-cycle of a mosquito, we know that this movie will be something unusual.
As the film begins, we fly with a mosquito from the sewers of 2007 New York, through the streets and then into an opulent party. The mosquito continues to weave through the party, catching snippets of conversations about Clinton and Obama and stocks. The partygoers seem to be the elite beautiful people who control the wealth, just before the great crash of 2008. The mosquito finally rests on the neck of Richard Boca, finding a perfect meal.
Richard Boca (Beau Knapp) seems a bit out of place in the setting. He is painfully uncomfortable in his skin, eyes averted, twitchy, a bit hunched. Sure, Richard is dressed for the occasion, but he seems more like Quasimodo dropped onto the set of American Psycho than a Wall Street power-player. Boca cuts a chunk from the center of a huge birthday cake as his boss introduces him to a beautiful woman, Lena Del Alcazar (Charlotte Vega). We discover that Boca is a bit of a technical genius. He has invented some sort of algorithm based on honey bees which accounts for much of his firm’s success. We also get the impression that Boca would never end up with a woman like Lena if there weren’t some urging by his boss.
This party and the subsequent “date,”where Lena and Richard return to his opulent penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park, (we learn he owns the whole floor), are the beginnings and end of what would seem to be a fairly grounded narrative. The rest of the film is a descent into surreal isolation, as Boca begins to see danger signs in his Honeybee Algorithm. Apparently, he can foresee the impending stock market collapse. Maybe honeybees weren’t the proper analog? Maybe mosquitos are a better model? The welt from the original bite has grown to the size of a grape, or a plum. He should probably see a doctor. Instead, Boca buys industrial grade humidifiers and sets large containers of standing water throughout the apartment, and turns up the heat.
Mosquito State could be expected to go in several directions from this point. If David Cronenberg got his hands on this, Boca would surely transform into a Bocasquito, all slimy and gross. If this was an early ‘70’s b-movie, Boca would harness his army of mosquitos for a bloody revenge on his boss and Wall Street Bro coworkers. Director Filip Jan Rymsza has other plans, slowly unravelling his character, while aiming a sharp eye at myopic corporate greed. For myself, the final act wasn’t fully satisfying, but the ride there was often fascinating and always visually stunning. Special note to cinematography of Eric Koretz and the production design. Mosquito State’s visual stamp is remarkable, full of glass and purple and gold, often as breathtaking as it is squirm-inducing.
Although Mosquito State isn’t a movie that I can wholly recommend for most viewers, it is a movie to be admired for a singular and unique vision. The art-house horror crowd will definitely have a few avid fans. While I find it a bit of a near miss, it’s a strikingly beautiful oddity. I look forward to seeing what else Filip Jan Rymsza dreams up in the future. He just might have a masterpiece in-store for us.
If you are a horror and thriller enthusiast, check out our Find Your Film spotlight on filmmakers Dario Argento and Mario Bava: