Get ready for ants in your pants with filmmaker Stefan Fernandez’s strange short Erotic Insect. An exterminator with green hair (Eric Portillo) is busy at the office, thumbing through an issue of High Society while watching boobies on TV. The corded landline phone rings. It’s Jimmy from 6th Street calling. He needs the exterminator right away as the cockroaches are back. The exterminator lets him know it will be a couple of hours, as an extra enormous pair of milkers have come on the television.
Later, when spraying the 6th street building for bugs, the exterminator hears sex noises down the hallway. Behind one of the doors are a pink light and the sounds of one woman (Nikayla Fernandez) moaning and another one (Natalie Puente) groaning. This starts the exterminator’s teapot boiling, and he leans in for a good listen. But wouldn’t you know it, he makes a sound, and the fun stops. The women’s voices demand to know who is listening in from outside. When they find out it’s the bug man, they invite him in, claiming to have a surprise for him. The exterminator opens the door and starts walking down a long tunnel, the voices urging him to come quickly.
“The exterminator opens the door and starts walking down a long tunnel…”
In the first sentence, I designated Fernandez as “filmmaker” because he wrote, directed, shot, and edited Erotic Insect. One of the coolest things about the short film format is that the scope is narrow enough to allow personal interaction without collaboration to maintain a single vision. The vision here is a frontier of sleaze and creeping horror. Fernandez conjures up the old-school scum of the Earth atmosphere of the 20th-century skin trade. You can almost smell the unique blend of amyl nitrate, latex, and lube only found in well-worn 24-hour adult bookstores.
The filmmaker recreates that retro vibe of smut seediness right down to the fresh crust of shame. And it all starts with that ringing phone. The only thing more old school would be a naked man on the floor going “ring ring” like a Dark Brothers picture. In a very John Waters move, the title is shown on this brilliant image of a cockroach crawling over a girl/girl pictorial. Jeremy Ciliberto designed the erotic insects, and the devil is in the details, which works for maximum creep-out factor.
Erotic Insect is more a vignette than a story. The narrative would fit into a really creepy birthday card. While there is a flutter of suspense, the ending isn’t a huge surprise. We also have the unfortunate set decoration that may not be black garbage bags but sure look like them. It feels like these are the first baby steps on a long, winding, sperm-stained path. However, the lighting and angles are well done, and the director can cut like a mother. He also picked a great title that he lived up to in three minutes. The film might be too tiny to knock you over, but it is rich in promise of what Fernandez may do in the future.
"…rich in promise of what Fernandez may do in the future."