Red Cockroaches (2003) is a science fiction film that really does not have to be (at the least for me to enjoy it). While traditional science fiction elements are integral to peripheral parts of the story and while one can read Philip-K.-Dick-ian themes of identity versus technology versus civilization, director Miguel Coyula crafts an unusually innovative and provocative film grounded in familiar characters in a dysfunctional setting. Red Cockroaches also contains good acting, impressive digital photography, and quite a bit of eroticism.
Adam (Adam Plotch) spies a beautiful stranger (Talia Rubel)
on the subway platform. When the train
arrives, she disappears in the crowd.
Soon after, she knocks on Adam’s door and inquires if he is looking for
a roommate. They engage in flirty
conversation, but the young woman leaves, deciding not to share the rent. Adam goes to the cemetery to visit his
father’s grave on the tenth anniversary of his death and once again meets the
beautiful stranger. This time Adam
embraces and kisses her passionately, but she disappears when the two are
interrupted. Adam later gets a worried
call from his mother and he rushes to her home.
Adam’s mother introduces him to the beautiful stranger, named Lily, and
Lily is his sister, presumed dead ten years ago who died in an accident with
Adam’s father. Adam is understandably
perturbed upon this discovery but allows Lily to move in with him in his
The sexual tension in Red
Cockroaches drives the first two-thirds of the film, aided well in part by
Coyula’s photography. He has an
undeniable talent for crafting sexy innuendo in each frame. The wonderful underlying current in each
scene is that Lily is well aware of Adam’s attraction (which she shares) and
takes delight in attempting to arouse him (ultimately, to see if he is brave
enough to make a sexual advance towards her).
Coyula adeptly inserts into his compositions subtle sexual imagery and
emphasizes the very creative ways that couples flirt with each other. As the sexual tension rises between the two,
they consummate in an extremely humorous setting. At the same time, the scene is hot. Subsequent to this lovemaking scene, Coyula
follows with an intimate scene where Lily confronts Adam about chilling events
from their past. The final act of Red Cockroaches shows how dysfunctional
behavior breeds familiarity and more dysfunctional behavior. The final act also sees the film turn to very
Cockroaches in a futuristic setting, replete with aerocars, mutated insects
(hence the film’s title), and continual acid rain, for example, only enhances
the unreal atmosphere of the story. It
is as if one could read the film as being representative of technological
advances leading to a greater disassociation between people. This disassociation, in turn, serves as a
catalyst for a regression in our civilization.
Nonetheless, Red Cockroaches
looks cool; as if Coyula meticulously digitally painted his film in making his
lush visuals. All the detail, however,
stays in the background and works in an almost subliminal way.
Red Cockroaches is
a weird, independent film. It is really
arty and provocative but should not alienate those who are open-minded about
their cinema. Red Cockroaches was released on DVD years ago by Heretic Films and
is well worth checking out. A personal