Masters of Horror: The Screwfly Solution
Give me a piece of that Screwfly pie
Usually I have a clever intro or a story to tell of how the movie I watched relates to something personal. Nothing really comes to mind for this movie. I pretty much picked it because Jason Priestly (90210) and Elliot Gould (American History X, Ocean's Eleven) are in it. Nothing wrong with that, right? Both are good actors (Elliot Gould would be considered “good” anyway). The synopsis I read seemed sort of interesting, I guess. Sometimes you just have to take risks and you might be pleasantly surprised...or made to feel pretty uncomfortable.
The Screwfly Solution is based on a short story written by James Tiptree Jr (aka Alice Sheldon). The basic premise of the story is that an epidemic is sweeping the world causing men to brutally murder women. Alan (Jason Priestly) and Barney (Elliot Gould) are scientists that are trying to combat the epidemic. They describe how scientists were able to modify the Screwfly population so that they could not reproduce and believe that the same thing is happening to people. Men can no longer separate sex and aggression and are murdering women with religious fervor. Alan's wife Anne (Kerry Norton) has been helping women at the shelter she works at and fears that Alan may be succumbing to the epidemic. She flees to a log cabin with her daughter for safety, where they are found by a homicidal Alan. They escape, but apparently her daughter is incredibly stupid because she runs back towards her father, leading to unfortunate results. Anne makes her way to British Columbia, where she camps in the woods and poses as a man. There, she discovers the true cause for the epidemic. Will Anne be the last female left on Earth?
(sigh) Another birthday, another pile of dead bodies from Grandma
This movie made me incredibly uncomfortable with all the violence towards women and there is a lot of it. I guess that is the purpose, but it really hindered my ability to enjoy what I was watching. It made me want to yell at all the male characters to leave them alone. The story feels very rushed in the hour-long format of the Masters of Horror series and I feel the ending comes completely out of left field. The big reveal for the cause of the epidemic feels like a cheap cop-out by today's standards. I won't spoil it for you, but I literally said “Really?” I appreciate that they stayed true to the source material, but they should have put in an effort to leave more clues or foreshadow. As a short story, I can definitely see how The Screwfly Solution would be both compelling and scary, but on film it doesn't translate as well as it should have.
Director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Eerie, Indiana) tries to go for creative shots, but the movie looks cheaper than other installments of MoH. It feels like they spent all their budget on some CGI at the very end. Besides that, there are minimal effects. Maybe it was just the film the used. Priestly and Gould both do a good job in their roles. Norton starts off a bit weak, but she won me over in her survivalist mode towards the end.
Ultimately, The Screwfly Solution comes off as a good short story and a mediocre movie. The violence made me incredibly uncomfortable and may have even been focused on too much. The acting is decent all around, but the directing should have been better. It was not the best that Masters of Horror has to offer. The social commentary is very strong, which is good for a horror movie, but if you're just looking for monsters and guts, this isn't for you. If you get the chance, read the story and skip the movie.