By: Steph Cannon
An alien invasion is certainly not a new movie concept, so finding originality and freshness in an oversaturated genre is a difficult feat. This isn’t even something that can be narrowed down to the horror market, when you have everything from feel-good family films like E.T. , to campy adventurous romps like Men in Black and Mars Attacks! So how DO you make an alien flick that can stand on its own amongst the rest?
The trick might be to focus less on uniqueness, and more on simply taking your audience on a wild ride, so they’re saying to themselves “What did I just watch?” while the final credits roll. THE SEED, a Shudder original written and directed by Sam Walker, makes a valiant effort to do just this, while blending true horror, a dash of comedy, and a decent-sized smattering of body horror, to create a strange little, alien movie.
Friends Deidre (Lucy Martin), Charlotte (Chelsea Edge), and Heather (Sophie Vavasseur) embark on a girl’s weekend in the remote California desert to relax, party, and film an upcoming meteor shower to help boost their social media channels. We get a good sense for their personality types right away, introducing Deidre as a vapid, self-absorbed social media influencer, and Charlotte as more of a sympathetic, relatable character. Heather, for her part, is the least developed character of the trio, and always feels like she’s just kind of… there.
The anticipated meteor shower does indeed occur, sending the girls in a state of awe and wonder as they witness the meteors falling in strange ways. Things go from peculiar to really weird when a large black mass crashes into the pool right before them. Bewildered, they manage to scoop the object out, only to discover it is a foul, messy, disgusting-looking creature.
Unable to identify what it is, they spend a good deal of time arguing over what to do with it, while also discovering that their cell phones aren’t working. Realizing they don’t have many options, they eventually concede and retreat to bed, leaving the creature by itself on the pool deck. When they awake the following day, they discover the creature has dragged itself away from the house. This sets in motion the strange events that transpire through the rest of the movie, changing the tone from nonsensical and bizarre to, well, creepy and quite literally out of this world.
Disagreements about what to do with the alien continue amongst the trio, with their varying personalities dictating how they want to handle the situation. Oddly enough, it’s Charlotte’s compassionate nature that inadvertently leads them to danger, launching the three friends into a battle of resistance on multiple levels. Thanks to the meteor shower, they’re left with no ability to use their phones OR a means to search for help, and their isolated location only inhibits them further.
THE SEED tries hard to fill in the gaps of any plot point that the viewer may question or call their bluff on. It’s fortunately more of a testament to the script work than it is just an obvious exposition dump, and allows you to be able to sit back and just enjoy the movie for what it is. On that note, this is also a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and knows full well that it’s just a mindless oddity of a gross, little alien story.
The practical effects are impressive for the budget it has, and it’s safe to say that they nailed giving this creature a look that sets it apart from most other aliens seen in film. The creators somehow manage to make this thing both gruesome AND cute, and threatening AND pitiful, which results in a multitude of emotions felt throughout the 90-minute runtime.
Setting plays a big role in the overall tone, with the stark, secluded desert landscape aiding the feel that these characters are hopelessly alone. The final act is chaotic and eccentric, with moments of “Did they really go there?” to make it feel like an outrageous, gory ride. It’ll make you think twice before your next stargazing adventure, while also leaving you with a sense of relief that this is fantasy and not reality.
THE SEED, a Shudder original film, premieres exclusively on March 10.