Starring: Mircea Monroe, Christopher Shand, Brian Krause, Nora Kilpatrick, Richard Riehle
A group of 20-somethings go to a small island when one of them inherits a house that they intend to clean up and sell. But the island and it's inhabitants hold a secret: it's the breeding ground for a genetic experiment gone wrong and the island is over-run with large parasites that give their host superhuman strength and senses... while being eaten from the inside out.
So a small town gets over-run by a seemingly endless swarm of parasites that look like large mutant alien slugs that get inside a person and eats them from the inside while also causing the person to be somewhat evil and more powerful than a person should be? Huh. I feel like I've seen this before... when it was called "Slither"!
The film opens with a 20-something (we'll later learn his name is Justin) running through the woods being chased by a handful of cops. They finally come to a beach. Something crawls across Justin's face just beneath the surface of his skin, and he runs into the ocean and starts screaming. His body completely disintegrates in the salt water.
The story starts a couple days earlier when Justin is a part of a small group of 20-somethings including his step sister Jamie, her boyfriend Marco and friend Kristin. They've come to a small island because Jamie just inherited a house that she and her friends are going to clean up and sell to a buyer on the mainland that's interested in paying $2million for it. This weekend trip is doubling as a sort of vacation for the group. Tensions between them already start high because Kristin doesn't really want to do any work and she seems to be a little mean (and also a little flirty) to Justin who seems to be the "dork" of the group.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the island, the parents of a little girl are woken up when she comes in their their bedroom covered in worm like creatures that also crawl under her skin and out of her tear ducts. The little girl is very amused by the worm creatures, but the parents are naturally frightened as the worm creatures swarm through the bedroom and attack the two adults. The bodies are sent to the local lab where it's determined that somehow a new strain of a parasite is on the island. As it turns out, over 20 years ago the scientists living on the island were playing genetic gods by creating a parasite that would give humans their next jump in evolution: give them greater physical strength and senses as well as improving their mental capacity. The project went wrong, however, when the parasites got out of control and began eating their hosts from the inside as well as growing much larger than the microscopic size they started out. The project was shut down despite the outcries of the scientist who developed it, and the island was de-contaminated of the parasites. Or so they thought as now, 20 years later the parasites seem to somehow be back. Their one weakness? Salt. The mayor of the town has found out that Jamie and her friends are on the island, and wants to get them off.
Jamie starts having flashbacks of her childhood living on the island. Justin and Kristin hook up and Justin becomes infected with the parasites. As Justin exhibits abilities beyond normal (superior strength, senses, and a sort of telepathy), Jamie has memories that are directly linked to the original parasite outbreak on the island, and just in time as the mayor tries to get her off the island as the infestation grows worse.
"Growth" is an entertaining low-budget indie film that looks like it cost far more money than it actually did. Being shot on the RED, the film looks very Hollywood-esk for it's meager $300,000 budget, and the CGI looks damn good in all but 1 shot (there was just once when I was able to see the rotoscoping line that the CGI artist failed to get rid of when a parasite burrowed into a wound on someone's hand).
The acting was surprisingly good for such a low budget film. With exception of a few cameo appearances, most of the actors are relative unknowns striving for stardom in this film. While this movie probably will never reach the acclaim it would take to make these actors household names, they can pat themselves on the bat for giving entertaining performances.
The editing in this movie is terrible though. They try too hard to build suspense at any given point by jumping back and forth between the characters once they've split up and are each learning different aspects of the story. There were a couple times (1 that particularly stood out to me) where these cuts are done at such inopportune times that it felt like a mistake was made and that I just somehow lost a few seconds of footage. It really hindered the flow of the film.
And of course, the story is a knock-off of "Slither", which is a film that I'm not all that fond of. While I do believe "Growth" did the slithering creepy crawly thing much better than "Slither" (I actually felt uncomfortable in some of the scenes and got that odd sensation that my own skin was crawling), it loses points with me for it's lack of originality.
All in all, though, I'd say that "Growth" is a fun indie film that has much higher production value than it's budget would suggest, and is one of those horror films that will make you feel uneasy for an hour and a half. Support independent film and have fun doing it: check out "Growth".
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