Review: Progeny

Written and directed by Justin Daering and co-written by Kenda Greenwood, when a factory worker is implanted with his alien boss’s parasitic offspring, he asks his wife to perform an illegal operation to remove it. Starring: Chasen Bauer, Wyndoline Landry, Christian Dunlop, Clayton Hoff, Hans Christopher, Aaron Aoki and Adrienne Rose White.

From the second this film starts, you know that there’s something not quite right going on, and if you didn’t read the synopsis there’s no chance you’d guess what that is, but even just the initial interactions between Emily (Landry) and her patients starts off a wonderful sinister vibe that only grows. However, you soon realise that Emily herself is far from dark, her and her husband Tanner (Bauer) are just your average couple building a life together, Landry and Bauer have a solid chemistry and an underdog charm that makes their story so easy to get invested in. Though there is plenty of darkness to be brought in by their support cast, particularly Christopher who holds a sincerely disturbing presence before you even take into account his alien prosthetics.

This film may just look like a mild-mannered alien invasion with a fairly disgusting method of impregnating humans with their parasite children from the outset but the sheer number of relevant subjects that it tackles through the use of sci-fi is impressive. Building a film that has so many distinct parallels to reality with topics like rape, victim blaming, religion and the pro-life movement, speaks overtly to the brilliant quality of writing that this film has to offer. Taking the situation seen so often of men in power using it to assault their employees as if it’s a two-way transaction or a normal part of getting ahead and turning it into a story of aliens and parasites is remarkably effective and clever. One of things that makes it work so well is that it also takes into account the affects to mental health, the people that facilitate it, the section of society that values a foetus more than the victim and how it’s stoked by religion, it’s extremely well thought out. Bringing all that together means that the film walks a fantastic line between drama and sci-fi, or even horror depending on your perspective, few can manage to establish such a delicate balance but Progeny does it effortlessly, it makes you sympathise with Tanner and his struggles while being afraid, outraged or disgusted by the story.

It’s easy to see immediately that the film has a great visual quality, it’s sharp and clear and Daering’s style brings out that ominous atmosphere more subtly at first before stabbing at you with it to take you off guard. His style brings through the suspense, emotion and fear in a very effective manner, playing on the drama before bringing through notes of tension and violence with an almost harsh jolt. That setup means that it keeps you with bated breath and entirely unable to take your eyes off of it, it’s that mix of subtle and overt that means anything is possible and that quality keeps you plugged in with ease. Especially in the climactic moments where Daering gets in nice and close so you can’t escape the graphic nature of its scenes, you may want to look away and you may even feel what’s coming and shrink back from it but you will still be unable to stop yourself from watching its oddity unfold.

One of the other elements of the film that you couldn’t possibly miss is the effects, and what is particularly great about them is how much is done in a practical fashion, relying on imagination rather than entirely computerisation. They’re almost unsettlingly convincing, they embrace the gross factor in a truly wonderful way which again, you’ll want to look away but you can’t, they super-size the injection of fear and horror into the film which is intensely enjoyable to watch; not unlike the love of Chestbursters and shape-shifting extra-terrestrial organisms that might make you keep a close eye on your dog. A factor which is complimented by the make-up work, the style to the prosthetics isn’t overly complicated or warped but alters the face enough to not have any chance of being mistaken for human. The overly pale pallor and sharp edges almost look pulled out of Star Trek but still give off an original vibe.  

Progeny is utterly gripping, surprisingly smart, extremely well balanced and you’ll be glued to your screen. The brilliant work that has gone into taking such a relevant topic and telling it in such a creative and eye-catching way is impressive, not only is it highly entertaining but it has a genuine message. The use of violence and gore is sparing yet highly effective, the blend of drama and sci-fi is infectiously engrossing, it almost has the energy of a thriller and it’s visually superb. This excellent team is firing on all cylinders, there’s no weak spots, it’s simply a wonderfully well-made film.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯✯ | 10/10

Check out the trailer below for a taste of its unusual charm!

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