The Seed follows a trio of young women who, while watching a meteor shower at a vacation home, discover a weird, disgusting creature. As they argue over how to handle the seemingly harmless yet repulsive thing, they begin to fall for its otherworldly whims.
[This movie was viewed via the Shudder at the time of this review.]
The Seed Review
It was hard not to get excited for a Shudder Original teasing some hefty practical effects and body horror in the trailer. Efrit and I are not a rare breed...I would argue a majority of horror fans praise a film's commitment to practical effects, and while CG has its place, it tends to work best as an accent and visual multiplier of practical effects. So when a horror film comes along toting 80s-style puppetry, it's hard for the nostalgic fan in me not to get pumped up. But does it suffer from the hype of its own practical proclivities?
Let's knock this out of the way first...The Seed does a lot of things right and a few things wrong. It's easier to point out the flaws in things nowadays, and I am terribly guilty of it here (I'll dive into my main issue with this film after a spoiler warning later in this review), but I want to make it clear that I think this film had more things going for it than against it.
Perhaps the strongest kudo I can give it is the style of the film. I think the campy magic of the 80s is a hard thing to grasp without going full-cheese and/or heading into the realm of satire. But occasionally a movie comes along and properly balances the whacky/whimsical nature of the 80s with the prudence of a modern film. The Seed isn't flawless in this regard, as it does fall a bit on the goofy side of the scale, but it does a great job of walking this tightrope and producing an 80s romp with the right amount of self-awareness.
The commitment to the practical effects is certainly commendable. We get some puppetry reminiscent of the aforementioned Ghoulies and body horror that holds its own. The tone transitions in a near-seamless way, with a goofiness that slowly transforms into fear. The fear never quite gets there, as the film struggles to completely break away from the corny tone in which it starts (peaking during a scene involving a dimwitted teenage gardener). The progression eventually does lead to the terror of the creature, but in a way that started to feel oddly familiar...which leads us into the spoiler section of our review:
Really, the biggest disappointment I have for this film boils down to one simple realization. As the...sexual exploits of our alien intruder begin, I said in my head, "This movie reminds me of Slither, but with more sexuality." Then I began to recall scenes from Slither in my head and realized, "Nope. Slither had plenty of that too. This is just a dumbed-down, low-key Slither." And, yes, that is a hyperbolic comparison to be sure, but it did establish the disappointment I had in the overall concept. It's an alien being breaking out of a meteor with the intention of mating with and/or consuming all life on the planet. There's the tentacle-like monster stuff, the impregnated hosts, the telekinetic, imagery-focused "this is what I plan to do to your planet" communication with one of the protagonists...It was a bit derivative in that way. And once I saw it, I couldn't help but think..."I've seen this before, and I've seen it better."
The primary evidence separating it from the James Gunn cult film is the obvious reduction in budget. There wasn't as much money to go around to put into the effects work. That's not something I would necessarily hold against the film, but it's worth noting. It lacked the ever-present dark humor of Slither with its witty dialogue and "slapstick" horror violence. The Seed also felt choppy at times, both in tone and story progression, and felt disjointed in its moments of absolution during the climax.
But I don't want to hold too much against it. The Seed still had its moments. I thought the cast did pretty well for the most part. I, again, appreciated the practical effects and the sporadic trippy visuals. It had a healthy escalation to its final moments. I can't shake the major issue I had with it, but at the same time there is a place for more and more grace and patience, as completely fresh ideas and concepts become rarer and rarer. At its lean runtime, it's certainly worth a watch.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 5/10