‘Seeds’: Film Review
1:57 PM PDT 9/11/2019 by Frank Scheck
- EMAIL ME
A troubled man finds himself physically and emotionally unraveling in Owen Long’s sexually provocative gothic horror tale.
Owen Long’s debut feature is a gothic horror tale involving murder, psychological unraveling, giant insects and themes of pedophilia and incest. You’d think, therefore, that the least likely thing it would be is dull. Somehow, the film manages to defy those expectations, delivering its creepy tale with all the excitement of watching a plant grow. Although stylishly made and featuring a compelling lead performance by Trevor Long (Netflix’s Ozark), Seeds never takes root.
After an intriguing prologue involving the murder of a scantily clad young woman wearing butterfly wings, the main story begins with the arrival of said murderer, Marcus (Long), at his family’s palatial New England beachside estate. He’s hoping for solitude, but must change his plans when his brother (Chris McGarry) arrives unexpectedly and asks Marcus to care for his teenage daughter, Lily (Andrea Chen), and her younger brother, Spencer (Garr Long), while he works out marital issues.
This sets the scene for slowly simmering erotic tensions between the pill-popping, clearly troubled Marcus and his nubile young niece, who seems determined to seduce him. That’s about it for the plot, with the film devolving into repetitive scenes involving Marcus’ disturbing interactions, some real and some imagined, with Lily. Meanwhile, his psychological deterioration is mirrored by physical manifestations of a giant spider, which at one point wraps its legs around Lily, and a tentacled creature that seems to be growing. The latter is foreshadowed in an early scene on the beach, where Lily picks up a seashell that contains a tiny animal that quickly withdraws its tentacles.
Toward the end of the story, Marcus partially transforms, Metamorphosis-style, into some sort of insect himself, perhaps a praying mantis like the ones that his young nephew keeps in a jar. It’s but one of many ideas the film touches on but never satisfactorily develops, as if screenwriter Steven Weisman (working from a story by director Long) had sketched out an outline but never bothered to fill in the blanks.
To compensate for the narrative diffuseness, the filmmaker employs various stylistic devices including hallucinatory visuals, off-kilter editing and jarring musical cues to keep the viewer disoriented. It all works up to a point, but the pacing is so glacial that the film borders on inertness.
Metaphors abound, including the house being afflicted with bad electrical wiring that correlates with the lead character’s faulty mental processes. Needless to say, it’s not at all surprising when an elderly supporting character goes into the basement to check it out and meets an untimely end.
The film certainly doesn’t shy away from its provocative themes, offering many images of the scantily clad or nude Lily. The prurience would perhaps be forgivable if the disturbing nature of the relationship had been explored in more depth, but instead it mainly comes across as exploitative.
Chen is certainly sultry as the young seductress, but she also displays a blankness that’s even more pronounced than the basic vagueness of her character. Lead actor Long (the filmmaker’s brother) is far more effective at conveying Marcus’ emotional disintegration, but his intense efforts are ultimately undone by the unintentional silliness of the material.
Production: Barnofo, Ambrosino/Delmonico
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment, Dark Star Pictures
Cast: Trever Long, Andrea Chen, Garr Long, Kevin Breznahan, Chris McGarry
Director: Owen Long
Screenwriter: Steven Weisman
Producers: Anthony Ambrosino, Owen Long, Younny Long
Executive producer: Younny Long
Director of photography: Eun-ah Lee
Production designer: Kevin C. Lang
Costume designer: Deborah Newhall
Editor: Ron Len
Composers: Erick Del Aguila, Ron Len
Casting: John Barba, Lisa Fields
‘Seeds’: Film Review 1:57 PM PDT 9/11/2019 by Frank Scheck FACEBOOK TWITTER EMAIL ME A troubled man finds himself physically and emotionally unraveling in Owen Long’s
Movie Review – Seeds (2019)
September 9, 2019 by Matt Donato
Directed by Owen Long.
Starring Trevor Long, Andrea Chen, Garr Long, Kevin Breznahan, Chris McGarry, Michelle Liu Coughlin, Adrian Enscoe, and Shannon Hartman.
When his increasingly depraved behavior spirals out of control, Marcus retreats to his family home along the New England coast. But instead of finding solace, Marcus is haunted by his darkest fears and deepest desires.
Seeds is one creator’s cringetastic satiation of drool-per-minute “Lolita” delusions. From introductory “moth play” intimacy – yes, a naked female dressed in wings and a moth mask frolics for her companion – to an ending torn from Playboy’s underage interfamily fanfic mailbag, Owen Long’s debut is as tone-deaf-skeevy as they come. A plotline that begs the question “why” too many times in terms of inception (better not to know answers). Masturbatory filmmaking under the guise of taboo romanticism and “dangerous” relations – and quite possibly the year’s least excusable cinematic experience.
Trevor Long stars as Marcus Milton, a reclusive madman with secrets and skeletons. After a motel meetup gets out of hand, Marcus retreats to his family’s New England coastal hideaway. That’s when brother Michael (Chris McGarry) shows up with his daughter Lily (Andrea Chan) and son Spencer (Garr Long), requiring a babysitter while his marital problems are addressed. Marcus reassures his sibling he’ll watch the children, to take his time, but Lily tests her uncle’s wills by seducing him over and over. There’s also a tentacle monster/giant insect that acts as a manifestation of Marcus’ monster within, which also gets handsy with Lily? Oh, Marcus, how will your fragile inhibitions keep you from shtupping family!
Before grilling the predatory indulgence that is Seed, let’s start basic: total drabness. Marcus’ initial bedroom romp with his insectoid mistress ends in murder (I think?), which brings about a wannabe Ben Mendelsohn dealer holding unmarked pills. Do we assume these are to keep Marcus’ monster from lashing out – a crustacean found in a girl’s seashell? This is all within the film’s first few scenes, before eighty(ish) minutes of Lily’s insatiable advances towards her mediocre male snack. We’re supposed to infer that Marcus’ tag-along lifeform wants him to succumb to Lily’s nubile attraction. Explicit eroticism sans tension through endlessly overt leers, oggles, and such “commendable” restraint when not fucking your niece.
Owen Long’s inability to construct any reasonable thrills or justified exploitation when handling Marcus and Lily’s one-step-away-from-softcore inappropriateness renders Seeds unwatchable. What commentary is there to reward? The way Lily hungrily throws herself at Marcus is mined from some deep-dive subreddit forum titled “Why Can’t Uncles Fuck Their Nieces.” Such a shallow display of male fantasy as Marcus makes soda floats for Lily, wiping away traces of whipped cream from her mouth with suggestive affection. “It’s rainy, let’s play like when I was a kid!” Cut to Lily trapping Marcus in a closet for some heavy-breathing eye lockage, lips caressing one another for what reason I cannot tell you. This is an uncomfortably unfounded wet dream masquerading as a monster movie, galvanizing a problematic white knight as a savior catalyst for true love.
Fuck, and I cannot stress this emphasis enough, that.
Seeds repeatedly discards cinematic integrity to compromise Lily’s hormonal morality. Insects play a recurring theme, never elucidated well enough to distract from Lily’s bone-crazy desires. Cinematography is often static and empty, except when ensuring Lily’s nude flesh is exposed. You can see Long is distracted by the former given how Marcus’ sidekick flips between wriggly octopus-like legs and arachnid appendages, as if CGI couldn’t match practical pincers. Similarly when infected veins crawl up Marcus’ abdomen, grubs wriggling out his mouth, as a poor representing of the thoughts within Long’s “misunderstood” and toxic host. Marcus is an incompetently written character who we’re supposed to derive empathy from during his paranoid journey from killer to familial martyr, deserving no introspection.
Seeds projects itself with the egotism of a nationwide bestseller, framed with literary cliches torn from book pages, but wouldn’t even cut it on a supermarket discount soccer-mom rack. Even with Lily’s schoolgirl teasing, Long massages a rather boring creatures-and-hormones “chiller.” Marcus, this supposed psychopath, is about as convincing as Ted Bundy played by Ned Flanders. Lily’s objectification and infatuation such a stone-emotionless lockerroom daydream that’s hard to swallow. A character here and there enter Marcus’ home only to be killed, but even these intercut deaths leave hands scratching heads because nothing wraps neatly. Man snaps, man cares for family, family thirsts for man’s touch, man embraces epiphany. Hi, yes – table for two, party of “NOPE!”
Forbidden love? Metaphorical monsters? What’s it all for? Seeds answers no questions, and – please don’t underestimate my hyperbole – is one of the illest conceived motion pictures this critic has ever endured. A character study that offers no depth. Creature representation as a thoughtless additive. On-the-nose Metamorphosis notes underline an utterly detestable analysis of one man’s reoccurring habits, breaking the cycle, and some of the worst will-they-won’t-they dynamics imaginable. Argue that everything is in Marcus’ head, corrupted by his “darkest fears and deepest desires,” and we’re still faced with the reality that Owen Long delivers ninety minutes of Skinemax fetishism I’ve seen executed more convincingly between blurry pay-per-view fuzziness. I don’t know what I watched, I don’t know why I watched it, but sure, Seeds exists for those lusting over relatives who so desperately need to witness their heartbreak put to screen.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Matt spends his after-work hours posting nonsense on the internet instead of sleeping like a normal human. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd (@DoNatoBomb).
Movie Review – Seeds (2019) September 9, 2019 by Matt Donato Seeds , 2019. Directed by Owen Long. Starring Trevor Long, Andrea Chen, Garr Long, Kevin Breznahan, Chris McGarry, Michelle