THE MILLENNIUM BUG
The title The Millennium Bug is a double play in that the film is both set around the turn of the millennium with the fears of the Y2K problem playing out in the background and is also a reference to the bug-like monster of the show that only rises once every thousand years. You go in expecting to be watching a film about the impending social collapses or at least characters imagining it but this is soon forgotten about. Instead, director/wrier Kenneth Cran opts for a standard reworking of the Backwoods Brutality film a la The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) with the innocent family who stray off the beaten path being made prisoners and tortured/killed by a family of backwoods hillbillies.
Soon into the film, I began to switch off at The Millennium Bug. The scenes with the hillbillies strike a note of cartoonish caricature. Kenneth Cran seems to be aiming for a catalogue of brutalising horrors as is standard for this particular genre. However, any horror here is subverted by the actors and the costuming, which seems determined to play the parts as ridiculously exaggerated cartoon figures, less sub-human hillbillies than someones cliche idea derived from The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71). What we end up with seems, despite the attempt to play it seriously, more like the deliberate absurdity of Mothers Day (1980).
About halfway through, Kenneth Cran tries to get clever on us. He does a plotting bait-and-switch in much the same way as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino did with From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) where they first drew us into a getaway thriller and then halfway through turned it on its head with the introduction of vampires. Similarly, Cran drags us into what starts out seeming like a Backwoods Brutality film and then part way through does a switch that turns everything into a monster movie. Perhaps a more honest version of the title would have been to pitch it as one of the contemporary versus films Hillbillies vs Giant Monster or some such. The giant monster effects are competently conducted and there are some reasonable shots of it stomping through the woods alas, when it is seen, it looks ridiculous, like something out of a 1970s Japanese Godzilla film. The films most absurd point though is when one of the victims falls into a pit and encounters skeletons that fall out and scream at them.
One of the peculiarities of the film is giving the father of the group the name Byron Haskin, the director of a number of genre classics including the Disney Treasure Island (1950), the original The War of the Worlds (1953), The Naked Jungle (1954) and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964).