Direct in scope and scale, Pests presents a lo-fi horror short that delivers on genre tenets while imbuing its brief narrative with a surprising amount of comedy throughout. What we end up with is a film that, although not without fault, speaks to a group of filmmakers who certainly had fun crafting this miniature creature feature.
We open on Shane (Murphy Patrick Martin), a down-and-out deadbeat. He’s unkempt, uncool, and definitely doesn’t look like the type to handle man-eating beasts in his free time. While preparing for a visit from his ex-girlfriend Megan (Cami Storm)—whom he desperately wants to win back—Shane starts to notice strange goings-on around his house and calls Eugene the Exterminator (Tyler Beveridge) in an attempt to get to the bottom of things before Megan’s arrival.
What makes Pests so darn fun is that it never takes itself too seriously. Whether Shane is drinking vodka out of a mug that says, “Coffee Makes Me Poop,” or his failure at choking the chicken, there’s a lot to laugh at during Cruser’s film. Moreover, the absurdity in our story is exactly why its ending is so powerful—but we’ll get to that later.
Green goop knocked over trash cans. Broken branches and frayed electric wire. These occurrences aren’t enough to make Eugene believe Shane’s claims of a creature, and he promptly goes to leave. Yet, Eugene hears a commotion in Shane’s garage while heading to his car and winds up being taken by the mystery monster in the process.
“Shane starts to notice strange goings-on around his house”
Here, we discover a musical score doing its very best John Williams impression, and oddly enough—it works. Juxtaposing wacky material with dramatic musical underpinnings adds to this film’s comedy and cultivates an undeniable emotionality in the process.
Sadly, those dramatic elements get washed out by Pests adherence to humor, and by the time it’s all over, there’s no reason for us to care about the outcome. Shane’s desire to get back with Megan is a nice touch, but we’re never given the correct amount of characterization to connect with that driving motivator in the first place.
Shane quickly finds Eugene only to discover… A flesh-eating man-beast in his garage, and it’s all downhill from there. Visually, the monster looks like Gollum on steroids and can do just about anything it wants. It climbs, it jumps—it rips organs out of bodies. Oh, the horror.
In the end, Pests can be best described as a good time. It’s not deep. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to. It’s an entertaining short film that watches an unseen terror finally catch up to those it is terrorizing. What more do you want?
"…What makes Pests so darn fun is that it never takes itself too seriously."