Chill Clinton obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies in 2016 and has since worked as a professional writer.
The latest film to see exclusive distribution through the Shudder app, Sam Walker's alien-invasion creature feature tries to prove that great things can still be achieved with a simple idea, and a liberal use of diversely-dyed corn syrup.
The Seed is a few parts Gremlins, a dash of The Stepford Wives, a heaping bucket-full of body horror a la late 1980's b-movies, and garnished with psychedelic montages reminiscent of Richard Stanley's 2019 sci-fi thriller, The Color Out of Space. But that's not to say it works.
Though audiences will find the movie lacks considerable energy throughout its first two Acts, its rising action and climax hit like a bile-covered freight train. By its end, The Seed is loud, grotesque, weirdly sexy, somewhat confused, and overwhelmingly okay. Its primary challenge, ultimately, is convincing home-viewers to care enough not to choose another title before it can show what few teeth it has.
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In The Seed, three friends visit one of their family's remote vacation homes in the middle of the Mojave Desert to watch a once in a lifetime meteor shower, and also take really aesthetic social media photos.
Two of the young women, Heather (Sophie Vavasseur) and Deidre (Lucy Martin) seem more inclined to indulge in libations and hangout poolside while their shy, nature loving friend Charlotte (Chelsea Edge) who has no social media, tags along to get a good view of the night sky.
However, their relaxing weekend away becomes more complicated when a tiny alien crash lands in the backyard pool. Unsure of what the creature is or if it's even alive, the trio tries to have it removed by one of the only two other characters to appear in this film: a dopey teenager with a laughably overdone country accent (Jamie Wittebrood).
But when they realize that the creature is still alive, animal-loving Charlotte brings the creature into the house where it lays its bloody tentacle-like roots and hatches its plan to hypnotically seduce the women, beckoning a mass alien invasion.
Less Can Definitely Be More
Without question, this film is most successful in how it uses practical effects to create an energetic, terrifying, and at times funny visual language. The alien spends a considerable amount of time on screen with the filmmakers not shy to show off the quality craftsmanship of their manually controlled puppet.
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Using sparing moments of computer generated images, the film is able to create absurd moments of terror using carefully designed, lit, and photographed practical elements. Fans of Brian Yuzna's 1989 body horror classic Society will particularly enjoy the alien's recurring fascination with wrapping the women in waves of its distended skin flaps and organs as they writhe around in a bloody puddle of ecstasy, undoubtedly a nod to the predecessor's most iconic scene.
Ultimately, the film's narrative never really progresses to the point in the invasion where elaborate visual effects become necessary, instead focusing on the horrific physical and psychological changes that the women experience as the alien totally ruins their little weekend retreat. And in making that decision, the filmmakers are able to deliver a few key moments of intricate and realistic effects, while the rest of the time, the narrative glued itself together with little more than a bunch of buckets of red and black goop.
But Will It Hold Audience Attention?
It's no secret that in this age of digital media abundance, where audiences pay one flat rate to access hundreds or thousands of titles, movie watchers aren't afraid to give up on a boring movie.
Unfortunately, The Seed is a boring movie, and I mean a really boring movie until it nears the end of the second Act. Though the actors, particularly Lucy Martin, deliver a few funny scenes as the women argue about what to do with the mysterious creature, very little happens in the first hour of the movie.
It's the sort of title that I imagine putting on for a late-night group watch only to apologize for its plainness as my friends get distracted by their phones, step aside to grab snacks, and probably lobby to just choose something else.
There are next to no scares or moments of slapstick comedy to hook the viewers, very little narrative or character development, few stakes risen to push the characters further towards their unfortunate conclusion, and almost no reveals that hint at what may happen in the final Act.
For a film that seems to be made for those who enjoy B-horror, the narrative has none of the markers of quality late-night monster flicks. Instead, it builds a confused and largely unresolved gesture towards the vapidness of social media that is all but pushed to the side as the film barrels through its final 20 minutes.
The Seed lives up to its name. It's a film brimming with potential that unfortunately struggles to earn its 90-minute runtime.
While those with an appreciation for excellent visual effects will find plenty to enjoy in Sam Walker's work, its narrative feels like an afterthought. Its final girl is perhaps the least interesting in a trio of sterile feeling characters who are all outshined by the talent and presence of the cast.
Perhaps it's fitting that the narrative is set in one of the most desolate landscapes in America because while it certainly is brutal at times, there are few signs of life The Seed.
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