A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Lurking beneath the overt tale of bloodthirsty locusts is social commentary on the exhausting and dangerous extremes people may go to in order to provide for their families and pursue their careers.
Positive Role Models
Virginie's best (and perhaps only) friend Karim is a successful winegrower of North African descent who faced prejudice from everyone except Virginie when first arriving in the south of France to pursue his dream.
Karim is an immigrant of North African descent who becomes a successful winemaker despite prejudice he faced upon arriving to begin a new life in the south of France. Talk of how, when he arrived, Virginie was the only person who was kind to him, and while he's attracted to her, he has also been trying to return her kindness as she faces financial struggles and her farm faces foreclosure.
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Violence & Scariness
Horror movie violence and creepy sonic imagery, typically from buzzing of locusts. Characters are attacked and eaten alive by locusts, dead or dying bodies shown as locusts consume them. Disturbing image of a pet killed by the lead character and fed to the locusts, as well as a farm animal beloved by a younger character. Some scenes involving blood, including lead character cutting herself to provide blood to feed the locusts. A cow is killed and sliced open so its blood can be used to feed the locusts. Jump scares. Teen character bullied at school and on social media; she stands up to one of the bullies by pushing him. He responds by giving her a black eye. Talk of how lead character's husband committed suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Regular profanity usage. "F--k" used once. Also "a--hole," "s--thead," "pissing," "bats--t," "hell," "crappy," "s--thole," "damn," "s--t," 'bulls---t," "ass."
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Products & Purchases
In its own twisted way, this horror movie makes social commentary on production and consumption, of being quite literally "consumed by your work."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wine and beer drinking. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Swarm is a 2021 French horror movie in which a woman struggling to get a locust farm off the ground discovers that these insects have an insatiable taste for blood. Expect slow-burn suspense with some disturbing horror imagery and sound, particularly when the locusts start to buzz. There are some disturbing scenes of dead or dying people getting eaten by hundreds of locusts, as well as scenes in which animals are killed and fed to the locusts. Characters cut themselves to draw blood to feed the locusts. A teen girl character is bullied at school and on social media. She stands up to one of the bullies by shoving him, and he responds by giving her a black eye. Talk is heard of how the father in the family committed suicide. The film has some profanity, including "f--k" used once and variations of "s--t," plus beer and wine drinking and cigarette smoking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a French horror movie with brilliant execution and a thoughtful message that's slightly marred by stale horror movie tropes and predictability. The Swarm (not to be confused with the cheesy '70s bees-gone-bad movie The Swarm) goes to great lengths to construct the world and the lives of the characters. Virginie is a single mother trying to provide for her family while also living up to environmentalist ideals by raising locusts as an alternative protein source to meat. But her teen daughter hates everything about where they live, and her young son just wants to attend a soccer camp that Virginie cannot afford. What emerges from this structure and slow-burn suspense is, beneath the ever present and oh-so-creepy buzzing of the locusts, a comment on the exhausting lengths people go to -- particularly single mothers in a capitalist and patriarchal society such as the one depicted in the movie -- in order to provide for their families, even if it means becoming, in this case quite literally, "consumed" by their work.
Unfortunately, there are more than a few horror movie tropes and plot points of banal predictability that not only prevent this from being better but also seem unnecessary: jump scares, a nightmare involving locusts, nosy neighbor characters, pets, and animals whose fates don't require much guesswork. These moments slow down what's already a slow build, and while it's fun to experience the playfulness of dashing expectations as we wonder early on in the movie whether teen bullies and condescendingly sexist farmers are going to meet a satisfyingly gory fate once the titular swarm is unleashed into the world, these moments ultimately feel either like story threads that go nowhere or else flabby exercises in character development. Still, this commentary, paired with the nightmarish sounds of the locusts not only buzzing but also thudding into tarps by the hundreds, will linger long after the movie is over, and there's enough Hitchcockian menace to make The Swarm stand out from standard horror fare.
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