A film that attempts to tackle the monsters inside (and outside) of us, Seeds delivers nothing of substance or purpose...
...Directed by Owen Long and written by Stephen Weismen, Seeds markets itself as a mix between The Shining and Lolita, but the comparison ends there. Not just because I'm of the opinion that the world needs to stop using Lolita as a benchmark for shocking stories, but because Seeds is a shockingly unnecessary film.
Given that horror is transgressive and forces us to experience things we don't always want to see or are afraid to confront, the potential of films like Seeds is important. However, the films that transcend have a purpose. To work and be effective there needs to be a clear-cut message.
Seeds does not have one. In fact, every opportunity it has to explain its motivation to tell such a depraved tale is lost in translation when the victim becomes implicit in the Uncle's completely deviant attraction. It's even worse when the niece is needlessly sexualized. The film spends too much time showing how creepy the main character is. It doesn't attempt to explore the psychology or reason behind his "monster". It's just there, brought into the house in the opening credits by a younger version of his niece, which we see again and again (ad nauseum) through the Uncle's mind's eye. It's gross.
The premise is simple. A man with demons is confronted by a monster that is attacking his niece. That monster is obviously a metaphor for his lust for her but the script is muddled and its message (or lack thereof) does the actors no favors. When the script starts to imply that she is also wanting a romantic and sexual relationship, it hurts whatever story the filmmakers were trying to tell. In fact, by the time the credits roll, nothing seems worth the journey.
Seeds has many lazy, directionless moments. The uncle's doctor/friend is a pointless character who continues to show up, acting as both foil and enabler. It doesn't help that the delivery of dialogue between them is spoken like the most unenthusiastic car salesman and captive customer. The subpar acting does little to engage the audience. It's hard for a viewer to care about the story beyond their contempt for the poor display of filmmaking onscreen.
The special effects are adequate. If this was a film about a monster attacking a family in the New England setting, Seeds might be a fun movie. Yet, the creepiness of the premise while using the male gaze on a teenage female is exceptionally troubling.
Some of the few highlights (and it's a stretch to think of any), are the film's setting and soundscape. The movie uses its location to its advantage; New England is beautiful and the cinematography shows it. The locale is also strongly enhanced by the sound design, the only truly compelling aspect of the movie. This sound designer needs to apply their craft to better projects. It's incredible.
Seeds' ending plays out like a tragic love story. The climax of the film is absurd. In every way. It attempts to bring the genre aspects back into the story, as if that justifies the horror of a film about an Uncle and his teenage niece believing that the "monster" wants them to be together. Reminder; This is a story about a man, and his lust for his teenage niece. Also, wait for the ending. Perhaps a sequel is coming. Hopefully, it's not.
Films dealing with the subject of sexual trauma should challenge viewers and be able to show the horror of reality. They should provoke anger but should also use that lens to tell a story that matters. Seeds doesn’t.
Seeds is available on VOD starting September 24th from Uncork’d Entertainment and Dark Star Pictures.
By Justin Drabek