Sam Walker’s The Seed is a psychedelic interplanetary strain that’s like Society meets a Cosmopolitan photoshoot. Shudder’s latest original also brings to mind something akin to The Cleanse, in which an adorable puppet becomes something much worse. I don’t mention Critters or Gremlins because that denotes a bit more creature polish—The Seed has more in common with Brian Yuzna or Stuart Gordon weirdness. Expect the high-style cinematography that Kim Kardashian would demand for her Instagram posts and the slimy cosmic grossness of something that’d crawl out of an ‘80s crater. You should be alright as long as you can throw yourself into such madness’ mouth.
It all starts when influencer Deidre (Lucy Martin), yogi Heather (Sophie Vavasseur) and vet clinic worker Charlotte (Chelsea Edge) take a girls trip to the Mojave desert. The three besties use Heather’s family vacation home as their isolated retreat on the eve of a historic meteor shower. As comets sizzle through the sky, Deidre complains about her lacking cell reception. That’s when an interstellar projectile splashes down in the estate’s pool. It turns out to be an extraterrestrial party crasher who—at first—only whines and drinks Deidre’s protein shakes.
As you might have gathered, The Seed becomes more abstract and atrocious from this point. Charlotte’s sense of humanity strives to comfort the fantastical gopher-turtle creature as it wails in discomfort, while Deidre tries to bash its brains with weapons. Practical effects aren’t more accomplished than a hand puppet, but that doesn’t ruin any sense of compassion for what could be a confused, off-world animal that just wants to find shelter. Charlotte’s empathy is valid, albeit for a huggable arts-and-crafts monster that extends a membrane quilt for impregnation.
I mean, the movie is called The Seed after all.
Walker orchestrates a comedic thriller that’s sleazy, salacious and invasive. The slithery, slippery grossness of a midnighter pokes fun at internet celebrities while forcing them to stave off the hypnotic advances of a shin-high intruder. Dialogue clues audiences into the cheeky, in-joke tone of proceedings—Deidre vulgarly quips about how bullies thrive because “pussies get fucked” right before the alien inseminator crashes behind her back. When it’s best, The Seed is covered in slop and prone to psychedelic “romance” sequences where actresses writhe under and between the creature’s endless tissue flaps. It’s obscene and artful, on a budget that proves “doing it yourself” can still be provocative.
Pacing problems initially arise, as the first third indulges stereotypical critiques of screen obsessions with a few puppet interludes. All three actresses sell their parts, but I’m more drawn to Ben Braham Ziryab’s centerfold-crisp cinematography than another online plastic princess acting like a monster in reality. Martin delivers the desired effect of making us loathe an obnoxious caricature of SnapFamous generations, which overwhelms Vavasseur’s un-zen yoga instructor and Edge’s “underachiever” who’s mocked for her outdated smartphone. Humor and crassness blend, sometimes to underwhelming effects as sunshiney poolside photoshoots run on coke binges. The movie doesn’t find its identity until the naked armadillo—as the girls guess—starts manipulating its human targets.
But once The Seed hits its stride, bloodlust and belly bumps become Bite meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Black gunk waterfalls from orifices as Charlotte struggles to confront the consequences of her decisions. Accomplished body horror gnarliness becomes both out-of-this-world and deathly excessive. There’s a heavy emphasis on final act payoffs, which erase its earlier doldrums when the party girls go wild for the sake of clickable attention. It’s a back-half experience that ultimately wins; pregnancy, self-worth and a host of other The Hills sci-fi invasion notes generate psychosexual stimulation amidst Sam Walker’s proudly indie messiness.
Director: Sam Walker
Writer: Sam Walker
Starring: Lucy Martin, Sophie Vavasseur, Chelsea Edge
Release Date: March 10, 2022 (Shudder)
Matt Donato is a Los Angeles-based film critic currently published on SlashFilm, Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting, and anywhere else he’s allowed to spread the gospel of Demon Wind. He is also a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Definitely don’t feed him after midnight.