If you've had them, you know: Bedbugs are nothing to laugh at – or sing about, for that matter. Yet composer James Danderfer managed to turn his own nightmarish experience (returning to his then-Montreal home after a summer sublet, he woke up the next day with about 60 bites) into a smart and wholly entertaining short film – complete with show tunes, puppets, and, would you believe, empathy for the bloodsucking parasites.
Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story, made in eight days by director Matthew Kowalchuk as part of Vancouver's Crazy 8s filmmaking challenge, is now showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Danderfer's wife, Shauna Johannesen, developed the story with him, wrote the script, and stars as the ever-hopeful Tracy. Ready to move in with her boyfriend, she finds herself dumped, bedbug-infested, and losing Facebook friends faster than you can Google "cimex lectularius." It's the bedbugs – including the rose-wielding accented charmer Bernardo – who teach her an important lesson in acceptance.
As a survivor myself, I remain on edge about anything bedbug-related, yet I was bitten by the film's charm, especially as the insects crooned unconditional love for their heartbroken human host: "You can be grouchy. You can be moody. Flaky dandruff. Or a little tooty. We love every inch of you."