The Seed (2021)
Directed By: Sam Walker
Starring: Chelsea Edge, Lucy Martin, Sophie Vavasseur
Plot Summary: Two social media influences Heather (Sophie Vavasseur) and Deidre (Lucy Martin) and their off-the-grid friend Charlotte (Chelsea Edge) go off to the desert for a once-in-a-lifetime meteor shower. Deidre also wants to boost her followers with a live-stream of the event. What starts out as a breezy girl’s weekend filled with fun and booze takes a sharp turn when the comet comes crashing down into their pool.
In my opinion there isn’t enough high-concept sci-fi horror being made. I also find that social media and influencer culture is still woefully underused as a backdrop for genre cinema. So, imagine how excited I was when The Seed manages to blend the two together. Sadly, it’s a wildly uneven experience. Credit where it’s due, Sam Walker’s feature film debut is an ambitious one. Indeed, the director takes some big swings, and the practical effects and visual style are on point. I actually think a premise based around an alien invasion with influences as the central characters is pretty interesting. The problem is, Walker never produces anything that feels wholly original and exciting. Clearly, the film’s biggest issue is its screenplay which is underwritten and at times feels unfocused.
If you are looking for fresh takes, you won’t find them here. Walker leans in hard on the air-head stereotype of social influencers, which is aimed mostly towards women. Heather and Deidre are reduced to nothing more than lazy punching bags and a projection of what elder millennials loathe about Gen Z’s. Even Charlotte, who I guess is supposed to be somehow better as she is “above” social media, is equally uninteresting and lacking in depth. The “commentary” that I think the film is swinging for is one-dimensional and never amounts to more than “social media bad” and “beautiful people are vile bullies.” These horrible traits are very much worth criticism and introspection, of course. However, I would have loved to have my expectations for these characters totally challenged and refreshingly subverted. But, nope.
There are also glaring writing problems the movie saddles itself with. Like, why would Charlotte even hang out with either girl to begin with? In what little backstory that we do manage to get, we learn that as a child Charlotte, used to be severely bullied by Deidre. This could have been smoothed over, but the actors have zero chemistry with one another. This makes its incredibly hard to even buy them as long-time friends. It’s utterly baffling.
The movie also struggles with its set-ups and pay offs. For example, a character’s picture is shown very early in the film and they don’t actually show up until nearly the finale. Also, Heather and Deidre making a big deal about Charlotte being “off the grid” tech-wise is seemingly setting up for a plot point, but again, nothing is done with it. It feels like elements from earlier drafts somehow still made it into the film product. The Seed does wonderfully veer into a trippy wonderland not unlike 2013’s Under the Skin. However, it’s a case of too-little-too-late as this happens well into the hour mark. There is this strange push-and-pull between the film’s grounded reality and its more absurd elements. Like, it at one point feels like a whacky sitcom involving three girls and an alien. And, I do really enjoy the off-beat qualities, but sadly, it never fully commits to its more surreal aspects.
On the plus side, I was really happy to see some nice use of practical effects. The main beastie, which I’m sure cost the bulk of the film’s budget, is actually quite a cool looking creation. Slimy yet cute, I felt like I connected with the alien more than I did with the human characters. I will also say that the film is well shot, and the desert locale provides a nice amount of atmosphere.
What makes me so frustrated is The Seed has an interesting premise and a cool creature, yet fails to do anything truly effective with it. Worse yet, it is as shallow with its commentary and characters as the influencers it mocks.
The Seed will premiere on Shudder on March 10, 2022.
Big film nerd and TCM Obsessed. Author of The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema from Schiffer Publishing. Resume includes: AMC’s The Bite, Scream Magazine etc. Love all kinds of movies and television and have interviewed a wide range of actors, writers, producers and directors. I currently am a regular co-host on the podcast The Humanoids from the Deep Dive and have a second book in the works from Bear Manor.