FrightFest '07: Seed

Although it was written at the same time as Postal and deals with many of the same issues - the corruption of government, the general state of the world - Seed is almost Postal's polar opposite. Where Postal was light and funny, Seed is harsh, dark, and brutal.

In 1970s America, criminals sentenced to death faced the electric chair. The only problem was, the electric chairs weren't always particularly effective, and a little known law says that if a criminal is electrocuted three times and survives, he must be set free. When notorious serial killer Max Seed is electrocuted twice and lives, the local authorities take the law into their own hands and decide to bury him alive.

This turns out not to be a particularly good idea.

Much of the film is lit only by light sources explained by the plot - a character carrying a torch, a streetlight, the moon. And although the arrest sequence at the beginning of the film is maybe a touch overlong, the fact that you can only see what the characters are seeing (usually only a small circle of light cast by a small torch) makes for some really creepy moments. Where most slasher movies play scenes like this - serial killer stalks a group of people - for laughs, Seed plays everything very, very straight. There's no titillation here, and no comedy; just some real nastiness.

There's also very little in the way of characterisation. We never get inside Seed's head, and nor do we develop relationships with any of his victims. Oddly, the film is probably more chilling because of that: it's just violence. Seed is a nasty, nihilistic movie that says the world is like this. People are like this.

There are two scenes which particularly stand out. One is the now notorious introduction, which uses footage of real animal torture obtained from PETA. Playing something like that in the middle of a horror movie festival which featured so many slasher comedies which invited their viewers to laugh at human bloodshed was something of a shock. The other scene is a long, steady shot of Max Seed killing the wife of one of the men who buried him alive. She's a conservatively dressed middle aged woman - no semi-clad 20somethings here - so there's no element of torture porn. Instead, the camera never falters as Seed delivers blow after blow to the woman's head with a hammer; at first, just playful taps, then increasingly harsh blows. Each one makes you flinch and desperately wish the scene was over, but it just goes on and on, getting nastier and nastier.

It's a strange film to try to evaluate. Immediately after it's over, you feel drained; but it seeps into your head and stays with you for hours afterwards. The more I thought and talked about this movie, the more ... well, I can't say that I liked it, as such; it was too depressing for that. But there's a lot of skill in this film, and a lot of anger. The horribly bleak final scene just hurts.

IMDB link & Will Sanderson interview

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