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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: April 25th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 2003

Red Cockroaches

Overview -

Set in the near future, Miguel Coyula’s abstract 2003 film Red Cockroaches sees a world of flying cars, acid rain, and DNA regeneration that is both possible and affordable. When a grieving man becomes obsessed with a woman whose presence in his life takes him on a bizarre and disturbing journey, we’ve given more questions than answers. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution presents the micro-budget DV thriller with a solid A/V package accompanied by plenty of special features for fans of the film. Recommended

Set against the backdrop of a futuristic New York City besieged by acid rain and populated with mutated insects and flying cars, bartender Adam (Adam Plotch) repeatedly encounters a mysterious and enchanting young woman (Talia Rubel) who leaves behind a tooth on the subway, triggering an obsession that quickly disrupts the overall banality of his day to day existence. This enigma slowly begins reappearing in different aspects of Adam’s life; as a prospective roommate, during a graveyard tryst, and eventually as his long lost sister who’s recently awoken from a coma after being presumed dead in a car wreck ten years prior. Oddly, this new found revelation of sibling kinship does not bring a stop to the couples’ lustful impulses and sexually charged mind games, eventually leading to a blood soaked climax fueled by repressed familial abuse, fast food foreplay, and the ever watchful eye of the ominous DNA 21 Corporation.

Armed with a $2,000 budget and a Canon GL1 camcorder, visionary Cuban born director (and recipient of the 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship) Miguel Coyula (Memories of Overdevelopment, Blue Heart) lensed this button pushing, mind-bending, surrealist Sci-Fi arthouse masterpiece (the first of a proposed trilogy), shooting solely on weekends over the course of two years in New York while attending the Strasberg Institute. The winner of over 20 film festival awards (including the top prizes at the 2004 DIFF and Microcinema Fest), Red Cockroaches remains a triumph of DIY and micro-budget video filmmaking, notable for its striking visuals, unique film language, and stylistic nods to the modern surrealist masters like David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

directed by: Miguel Coyula
starring: Adam Plotch, Talia Rubel, Diane Spodarek, Jeff Pucillo
2003 / 82 min / 1.85:1 / English DTS-HD MA 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region Free Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary with director Miguel Coyula and actors Adam Plotch & Jeff Pucillo
  • “The Making of Red Cockroaches” -archival featurette with director Miguel Coyula
  • “Discovering Genuius” -Filmmaker Jason Santo (Bent) on Red Cockroaches
  • Válvula de luz aka Light Valve -1997 video short directed by Miguel Coyula (47 min.)
  • Deleted scenes
  • The Front Row TV review
  • Trailers
  • Reversible cover art
  • English & Spanish SDH subtitles


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Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
English SDH
Special Features:
Audio Commentary with Director Miguel Coyula and Actors Adam Plotch & Jeff Pucillo , Making of Red Cockroaches (6mins), Discovering Genius Featurette (13mins), Short Film: Valvula de Luz (47mins), Deleted Scenes (4mins), TV Segment (1min), Original Trailer (2mins), Trailer: Blue Heart (3mins)
Release Date:
April 25th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


“This is by no means the family’s worst secret.”

Disillusioned bartender Adam Zarrasky (Adam Plotch, Corazón Azul) is trying to navigate his life, but strange visions and bizarre happenings begin wreaking havoc on his sanity. Soon, his visions become reality when a strange woman on the subway turns out to be his supposedly dead sister. Lily seems different now, causing Adam to become suspicious. A global climate crisis also sees acid rain exposure transmogrify humans into mutants. As Adam tries to make sense of it all, Lily’s bond strengthens even as she grows distant. Who is she, and what are the red cockroaches?  

A frenzied near-future sci-fi thriller inspired by Tarkovsky, Lynch, and Bladerunner, the film deals with the intersection of childhood trauma and the curse of time’s race into an unpredictable future. These themes play out within a broken family in which the reappearance of a supposedly dead sister proves more than welcoming for her jittery brother. An unstable environment and genetic experimentation wreak havoc on the family as the film patiently reveals the unsettling details about their relationships. 

Performances are low-key but very effective. Talia Rubel imbues Lily with a Chloe Sevigny vibe that is alluring, mysterious, and unsettling. Think Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but heavy on the manic. Adam Plotch delivers an engaging lead performance, navigating the sheer emotional frenzy of the film.   

The digital effects can be slightly distracting, but the sheer ambition to world-build with numerous small details makes the effort commendable. Miguel loves closeups and uses them often to heighten the emotional tension. His composition, using reflections and mirrors, is fantastic. Small moments and details within scenes show an attention to the inner workings at play. Transitions are key within the editing. For every cut in the feature, the camera setup is new, which breaks with traditional film language. This anime-style match-cutting technique affords plenty of opportunities for tongue-in-cheek humor to offset the tension. 

Miguel is a Cuban-born filmmaker living in NYC whose work would be embraced by micro-budget directors in the early 2000s. Considered the Ridley Scott of these early digital creators, Miguel's imagination and vision were unparalleled at the time. To get a sense of Miguel and what this film “means,” is to key in on a specific point in the audio commentary track. During the particularly intense and infamous sex scene that recalls Last Tango in Paris, Jeff Pucillo asks him why ketchup was in the shot. Miguel simply says, “Well, what is your interpretation?” Anytime he is asked what something means, that's his answer. Miguel’s emphasis is on treating the film as art rather than a comprehensible order of events with characters. Visual storytelling, to him, is far more important than plot or dialogue. 

Red Cockroaches is a compelling arthouse experiment that works well at crafting tension and momentum with sharp editing techniques to add layers of texture. Sci-fi fans would be remiss to skip out on this low-budget thriller. Honestly, you become so involved in the complexities of film that you almost forget its digital DIY trappings.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Red Cockroaches arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution. The disc presents the Saturn’s Core logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing adjacent to typical navigation options. 

Video Review


Miguel Coyula’s Red Cockroaches makes the leap to HD in an AVC-encoded 1080i transfer framed in the original 1.33.1 aspect ratio. Colors, textures, and details are limited by the original source DV material used in the transfer. However, skin tones and black levels are fairly solid throughout the feature. Compression becomes an issue once or twice in darker scenes, but it never detracts from the presentation. Fine detail is apparent in Miguel’s extreme close up shots of Adam and Lily.

Miguel’s DIY digital effects look dated, but it looks fine given the film’s early 2000s appearance and sci-fi aesthetic. You’ll notice a white dot on the screen throughout the feature. Don’t fret! It’s just a broken pixel on Miguel’s camera, so adjusting your screen is unnecessary. 

Audio Review


The sole audio track for the film is an impressive 2.0 DTS-HD MA mixed from the original 2.0 stereo. It’s an engaging experience full of atmospherics and detail. Dialogue exchanges are clear and cleanly recorded. Miguel’s self-composed synth scoring is barely noticeable, but its presence adds texture and tension rather than complicating matters. For those who need the included English subtitles, please be aware that persistent spelling errors may frustrate your enjoyment of the feature.

Special Features


Saturn’s Core and OCN provide a good assortment of new and archival bonus features on the disc. Start with the excellent commentary track before moving through the featurettes. Don’t miss out on the short film Valvula de Luz, it's a great compliment to Red Cockroaches

  • Audio Commentary with Director Miguel Coyula and Actors Adam Plotch & Jeff Pucillo Coyula takes the lead on this track, diving into the technical aspects of the production and his thoughts on casting. Pucillo and Plotch contribute plenty of funny anecdotes about the production, making this commentary well worth it for fans of the film. 
  • The Making of Red Cockroaches (HD 6:35) Director Miguel Coyula walks us through his story and editing processes in this archival making-of featurette. 
  • Discovering Genius (HD 13:01) Filmmaker and Founder of MicroCinemaScene Jason Santo on Red Cockroaches and the legacy of early 2000s digital filmmaking culture. 
  • Valvula de Luz (Light Valve) (HD 47:54) A 1997 avante-garde short film by Miguel Coyula filled with abstract imagery. Lacking a solid narrative structure, the film sees a number of characters in an apartment building dealing with alienation and isolation. Coyula’s distinct editing style is on point. 
  • Deleted Scenes (HD 3:51) Three cut scenes from the film are featured here. 
  • The Front Row (HD 1:20) An archival TV segment reviewing the film. 
  • Trailers:
    • Original Red Cockroaches Trailer (HD 2:03)
    • Trailer for Coyula’s 2021 feature Blue Heart (HD 2:51)
    • Other Saturn’s Core Releases (HD 24:00) 

Final Thoughts

Red Cockroaches is a tense sci-fi experiment that serves the image before character and story. Miguel Coyula’s attention to whip-snap editing may lead the filmmaker astray from coherent storytelling, but there is no denying his unique vision. Audiences with an open mind will certainly enjoy where the film goes, even if you’re unsure of the destination. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution offers a solid A/V package, given the film’s DV source materials and plenty of bonus material for fans of the feature. Recommended.