Locusts [2005]

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Horror
Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust is by consensus the great Hollywood novel, a poison-pen letter aimed squarely at the tinsel heart of the movie biz. Only in the 1970s could Hollywood actually hazard a film of this story, and the result is suitably corrosive. William Atherton is the observer Tod, Karen Black the blond starlet Faye, and Donald Sutherland the hulking Homer--but they are easily out-acted by the colorful supporting cast. In particular, Burgess Meredith's exhausted showbizzy salesman and Billy Barty's strutting dwarf are superbly crafted gargoyles in this Hollywood wax museum. Director John Schlesinger piles on the rancid atmosphere and rampant hypocrisy until the movie fairly drowns in its own grotesque vision. Long before the climactic apocalyptic riot, the film has torn itself up. There's no substitute for West's wicked prose, so the adaptation comes across as a literal-minded screech rather than a true bonfire of the vanities. --Robert Horton

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