Horror and social media (or the technological world of pop culture) have intertwined for many years now. Go back to the days where television was the big picture – “sucking the souls” of the viewer. That’s when David Cronenberg retaliated with Videodrome, a metaphor for the exposure to sex and violence in the media and the search for pleasure through broadcasted stimulation. In terms of this generation, the examples are not up to par. One of the exceptions is Host, which uses the meeting program Zoom to connect friends with a ghostly spirit. Now, in a way to join body horror with the influencer lifestyle, The Seed uses an alien invasion as a metaphor for the cavernous succubus that is social media.
What starts as a girls’ weekend in a lodge at the Mojave desert then becomes a horrific and stressful getaway. It only revolves around three women: Deidre (Lucy Martin), Heather (Sophie Vavasseur), and Charlotte (Chelsea Edge). Heather provides her father’s lodge as the perfect place to stay for a weekend of drinks, relaxation, and seeing the rare meteor shower. Charlotte is the odd girl out, as the other two are “high-elite” influencers – glued to the screen and regularly posting on the various social media outlets – and on occasions treat her like she’s worthless.
You question why she stays with them, even though they sometimes mistreat her. Nevertheless, you see that she’s looking for an escape and her friends’ lifestyles seem to be the answer. They binge drugs and drink alcohol as they await the sky full of meteors. Once it arrives, something crashes to the pool. It’s a tortoise-esque creature with a horrid stench and black goo covering its body, screeching for its life. The Seed‘s first half is a dark comedy, while the second half is a more serious body horror flick (creating a tonal disconnection). The first half is pretty weak; the characters aren’t appropriately developed and are established at a surface level. At least it has some funny moments, most revolving around the fact of how intolerable they are. The pitched critiques are somewhat toothless, lacking the effectiveness to engage correctly.
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That’s when the second half arrives with its ooze and mire. When it focuses on the bodily invasion, it is a nasty picture (in this case, for the better). Scenes of alien and human intimacy, head-smashing, black gunk running down the eyes, and body deformations… It’s awesome! When the film seems to run out of steam, it comes with some well-crafted practical body horror effects and a creepy turtle alien baby creature. By taking inspiration from films like Shivers, Brain Damage, Society, and the 1988 remake of The Blob, director Sam Walker finds his footing with the horror aesthetics, rather than in the comedic panderings. It’s almost a game of patience; you need to wait thirty to forty minutes before it gets to the good stuff.
However, the main issue with The Seed is that it lacks an identity between the realms of a darkly comedic critique, campy B-movie, and an art-house movie. Uncomfortably so, this movie lands in between the three, causing the audience to be confused about what exactly they are watching. Is it at least entertaining? Sure, if you like sludgy gloop and plasticine body distortions (as I do). But regular viewers might feel a split division. The Seed ultimately shines best when it’s icky and dicey. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live to its full potential due to tonal shifts and taking too long to get to the action. – Hector Gonzalez
The Seed is now streaming on Shudder.