The Swarm Review : The Birds in France!

Imagine, Hitchcock’s Birds but with a plague of locusts and set in rural France.

Who doesn’t love a B rated horror film, they’re such great fun – even if they don’t mean to be – and full of ridiculousness; including some truly obscure plots, but that is what makes them special, right? Here we have single mother Virginie (Suliane Brahim) who breeds locusts on a farm – as you do – as a high protein food source but has trouble getting them to breed, until she finds out they have a taste for blood – it really doesn’t get much better than that does it?

Director Just Philippot clearly aimed for a slow burner of a film with a firecracker ending, which was quite a disturbing finale to be fair. There was also an element of satire and social commentary about how small farmers literally have the blood sucked out of them, a smart little layer of self-awareness.

Virginie is a widowed mother who lives on a farm in rural France with her two children, Laura, and Gaston. She farms locusts in the hopes of selling them as a tasty new treat which is high in protein. Virginie is basically crazy; known around the area as the town looney, the family are a laughingstock. Virginie is struggling to get her locusts to reproduce (nothing worse than a prudish locust), but upon accidently discovering that these insects thrive off blood, she begins to harvest her own, as well as any animal blood she has access to.


Virginie begins to develop a rather strange connection to these locusts; becoming very protective of them as they begin to reproduce at an alarming rate, refusing help from attractive neighbours, and ostracizing her poor children – even if her daughter is the cause for some of her problems. Soon after, the locusts begin their deadly assault on the area, claiming their first victim, an unsuspecting and innocent goat – an unfortunate anti-climax. The film lasted an hour before a human being died, it was still slowly being set up, I’ve never felt so cheated out of a locust blood fest in my life.

It kicks into gear in the final act as Virginie will stop at nothing to provide for her kids (both her children and her insect offspring) she becomes the lustful killer for a selfish gain, pure obsession has led her to creating an army of bloodthirsty locusts, they are the innocent party bred by a desperate mother.

The Swarm was better than I thought it was going to be (my expectations were low), it was a very slow burner that built up to explode in the final 20 minutes. Could it have kicked into gear earlier? Probably (it didn’t feel like a horror up to that point), but it delivered with the finale at least. The Swarm offered a strange atmosphere throughout as well, there is something quite eerie about the sound of thousands of screeching locusts for basically the whole film, enough to drive you mad, which could also contribute to its value as a horror film, that coupled with the intense close ups of cannibal locusts – which was quite disturbing.

The Swarm is available to watch on Netflix now.

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