British writer-director Sam Walker’s feature-length debut, The Seed, explores the alien invasion Deidre (Lucy Martin), Heather (Sophie Vavasseur), and Charlotte (Chelsea Edge) face while on a getaway in California’s Mojave Desert during a meteor shower. Deidre and Heather are both blonde influencers, though Deidre reigns as Queen B, while Heather is timider. Charlotte, on the other hand, has darker hair, isn’t on social media, and is the only one with a regular job. The threesome have been best friends since high school and Charlotte is clearly the odd one out, not fitting in with their lifestyle. While Charlotte wants to enjoy the meteor shower, the other two plan to use it to gain more followers on their social media.
After the meteor shower, the women are gossiping by the pool when something crash-lands in the pool — a dark, slimy, blob with a shell-like covering. Heather freaks out because this is her dad’s house and she doesn’t want to get into trouble, so they fish the thing out of the pool and, according to Deidre, it smells like “ass.” They realise it’s “balled-up like an armadillo” and declare that, what it is, it’s dead — or is it? Upon finding it alive but sick the next morning, Deidre wants to kill it, but Charlotte wants to look after it. Things get more interesting when Deidre tries to kill it with rat poison, but it possesses her in some way.
The first half of The Seed is quite slow and filled with unnecessary scenes that go on for too long, such as them asking the 15-year-old gardener (Jamie Wittebrood), who is filling in for his brother, to take away the creature, and their constant pondering of whether it’s an “armadillo” before switching to “bear” when it loses its shell, despite it looking like neither. Walker, however, didn’t want the women to think it was an alien as that would’ve been a different type of film. In an interview at FrightFest with The Hollywood News, he said they would’ve seemed “stupid” screaming that it was an alien, but they still seem stupid referring to it as a bear. In order to achieve this, Walker understandably wanted it to look like “an alien that didn’t seem like an alien” with “animalistic” qualities. The creature was designed by Dan Martin who has worked on the likes of Colour Out of Space and Possessor. The end result is fairly interesting, especially as it’s a real and practical addition to the film. It’s an oily, turtle-dog-like creature that kind of looks like E.T.’s more fucked-up younger brother.
The alien wants to plant a seed in a host which feels like a metaphor for something relating to social media influencer culture, but I have no idea what — and neither does Walker. In the same interview with The Hollywood News, he said he didn’t want the alien running around tearing people to pieces and talks about how it’s innocuous, just as the internet was when it first came out. Walker made a smart observation in stating that the “power of the internet is in its telepathic, liminal, manipulative energy,” and he wanted to comment on how social media affects us on a biological level and how it destroys us, but it doesn’t quite stick its landing — probably because Walker says that’s what it started out as anyway, but it became something else and he isn’t really sure what the film says.
The Seed begins as a light comedy horror, but the genre soon twists into a dark, cosmic body horror. As Walker described, the alien kills in a deeper, sinister way when it uses its telepathic abilities to become alluring and irresistible to the women. The film is also brightly-lit, with lots of body horror taking place in the daytime, which stands out amidst our modern slate of dimly-lit horror. It’s filled with cool SFX that creates sticky body horror and creative mind-bending sequences, which are worthy of praise. The characters are unfortunately nothing more than caricatures of what they represent, but the cast does a decent job. For its lost message, The Seed is a fairly average and bonkers B-movie that has its entertaining moments.
The Seed premieres on Shudder on March 10
by Toni Stanger