Monday, 21 October 2013

Progeny (1998) Brian Yuzna

I can draw to mind scarce subjects more fitting for horror than pregnancy. New, pure life within world touched frame, unconditional love, human sharing a space with godhood for a spell. Joyous peak but daunting even at the best of times, and so a wealth of image and ideals ripe for perversion. There have been a few pregnancy horrors down the line, but since the success of Rosemary's Baby a majority concerned with the occult. Which makes some sense, it's almost a complete switcharoo. Me though, I just like science fiction a little more, which is why it pleases me that Progeny is a pretty creditable offering in this field. The story sees Craig and Sherry Burton conceiving after some effort, but soon things start to get a little unusual. See, they figure out the night they actually made it happen, and there's a two hour chunk missing that might have been more than just your run of the mill sex fugue... 

There are two drives here, one conventional and occupying around two thirds of the run time, the latter a little more creative. All the tropes are here, sinister puppeteering, suspicious authorities, weirdness escalating alongside paranoia and a general breakdown. Unfortunately the execution is somewhat rote rather than inspired, failing to maximise potential. A number of the scares are pat and predictable but worse, the film plays the physiological card early but then tries to maintain tension between reality and delusion anyway. Also, the script doesn't give its leads much of a chance to come across as loving and happy at the beginning, so the emotional descent is less pronounced and moving. Things do come together later on and rather improve with the addition of the idea of human intellect grappling with the incomprehensible, the films other drive carrying it through to the end. Depth is added, even dare I say it intelligence, but more importantly things build to a pleasurably tense albeit unlikely finale. But it doesn't fully satisfy, rather than properly entwining the two drives seem more to futilely pull against each other. 

Altogether this is a good watch though. Arnold Vosloo is convincingly edgy and rattled as Craig while Jillian McWhirter makes the best of her wild ride, the two take a little time to really gel together but when they do it makes for some tense viewing. Lindsay Crouse and Wilford Brimley provide effective support, but best is Brad Dourif as a sympathetic oddball, it's the kind of role he could do in his sleep but he brings an A game all the same. The pace is effortless, there's brief nudity, a bit of icky gore and high quality practical effects, particularly in a really pretty splendid nightmarish reveal (Screaming Mad George had a hand), although the computer assisted stuff looks a tad cheesy. So if you enjoy the pregnancy horror subgenre there's no reason not to watch this, even if you find it imperfect as I did you're sure to have something to chew over. Go check it out! 

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