I recently had a long discussion with a good friend about my ever-ongoing obsession with horror films, and my quest to find more movies that were visually challenging.
"Oh, you need to see Seed," she told me. Being a horror aficionado herself, she surprised me continuing with, "I even had trouble watching it".
Naturally I added it to the top of my queue.
Directed by "love him or hate him" Uwe Boll, Seed follows the story of imprisoned serial killer Maxwell "Max" Seed (Will Sanderson). Arrested for his morbid death toll of 666 deaths (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s fitting as you will later read), he is on death row facing execution. Despite protest from the Executioner (Michael Eklund) to Warden Calgrove (Ralf MÃ¶ller) on the failing condition of the electric chair, the authorities push forward with zapping Seed.
Seed manages to dig himself out of his own grave, and upon his "resurrection" begins to hunt down and target those responsible for burying him alive. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a little Voorhees-esque, but bear with me here. Bishop, feeling guilty at not taking action against Calgrove and his cronies for their travesty of justice, begins his own manhunt for the resurrected Seed, in a trial for his own sins that will test his very essence.
The first half of Seed is passed on in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth into flashbacks, telling the backstory of how Seed became the way he is and how he was arrested. The jagged jumping-back-and-forth is deliberately flummoxing, wonderfully swaying the viewer into a sense of uncertainty, and (eventually) terror.
The opening sequence is incredibly challenging, and will FUCK YOU UP COMPLETELY if you’re not ready for it – with Seed scrutinizing (or perhaps learning from?) ACTUAL footage of dogs being tortured (donated to Boll by PETA).
It sets the tone for the entire movie, and for the main character. It is a difficult video to process, so allow me to give you notice in advance if that is something you will find hard to digest.
For all intents and purposes, Max Seed is not really a serial killer or slasher. He is the embodiment of a boogeyman, almost (but not quite) metaphorically speaking, taking on the role of a “devil/demon” (666 murders, remember?) seeking revenge; or rather payment for the sins of those who have made some form of immoral choice. His revenge is rapid, violent, and bloody – and awfully painful for those he seeks. The movie has no bounds as far as moral ambiguity is concerned, but as far as the boogeyman devil character goes, the morals and ethics lie at the heart of the decisions and deeds of the "human" characters – the so-called good guys.
From one perspective, our devil figure could almost (though not really) be perceived as an anti-hero – establishing a mission against those who have done wrong by him. Seed is not a singular cookie-cutter horror villain, and for that, I’m thankful. There is a little depth to this demon, and much of it is open to the scrutiny and analysis of the audience. It opens up so much opportunity for deconstruction and dissection, and rivals another challenging film of Boll’s called Rampage in that department.
But taking that into account, the story is not your typical horror movie; nor is it a rip-off of “torture porn” (though there are a couple tips of the hat to the first two Saw movies). Seed is an incredibly shadowy and challenging movie, bleak and gritty, determined to dig its way under your nails, into your neurons, and deep into your gut. On one hand you have the demented devil seeking payment for the sins of the humans; but on the other, you have a horror movie that doesn’t follow the well-established trends of predictableness.
With blood, pugnaciousness, murder, decomposition, and a whole fuckton of stuff that will even give ME nightmares, horror fans will be enthused that not only are there frights aplenty, but the bloody gore is immense. Many scenes are some of the most brutal and belligerent I’ve seen. The impact is immediate, and does add to the depth of the movie, by heightening the tension and suspense. Some scenes, such as the torture, slaughter, and mutilation of the older woman (part of a larger plan by Max Seed) are extreme, and might even be sickening for some, pushing forth a sensation in which you are just totally unsure of how long this scene could possibly go on for. It culminates in one of the most explicit and challenging blood-spatter sequences I’ve ever seen in a horror movie.
Technically, Seed doesn’t scream a lot of brilliance – especially with much shaky cam footage… HOWEVER, the attention to detail in the period design (the movie is set during the 1970s) is fantastic, with some of the most tacky living quarters you will ever see in a movie. But that was what the Seventies was really like – and this movie nails that. Lighting also plays an important role, more so than most horror movies I’ve seen. It really sets the tone and tension of specific scenes, particularly the sequence during the house search for Seed, engulfed in much darkness with many of the only lighting being from flashlights and police lights – this will put you on the edge of your seat.
Uwe Boll is often highly criticized, particularly for his BloodRayne abortions, but I’ve found that he either has some spectacular films where he hits it out of the park or some really bad films that should never have been made (the aforementioned BloodRayne) – there never seems to be a middle ground for him. With Seed, Boll hits it out of the park, though there are a couple of things that let the film down. Firstly, the shaky cam footage becomes too much and too distracting, and is less used for emphasis than what it should have been. Second, there are some takes and cuts in the movie that were poor decisions – for example, there’s a short slow-mo shot towards the end of the movie that is so fucking cheesy, it takes away from the HUGE impact of the final sequences.
In light of these criticisms, Seed is not a perfect movie. And there are many of you out there that probably even shouldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) take this on board – it’s challenging, it’s demented, it’s bloodier than any horror movie you’ve seen, and it’s very fucking violent. And I mean more violent than TarantinoViolentâ„¢. So bear all of this in mind when you choose this movie”¦ it’s not for everyone.
But for the horror fans, and for those like me that need to be challenged by films like this, it is a memorable viewing experience and a surprising gem from Uwe Boll. If this is your thing, watch it straight away.
But if you’re a little unsure, if the thought of watching a movie like this makes you squirm in your seat a little, I dare you to give it a shot…
…and to watch it with the lights turned off.
Overall Rating for Horror Fans: 4 out of 5
Overall Rating for the squeamish: 3 out of 5