The Seeding is one of those films that drips with dread. Even if its eventual conclusion may be easy to decipher by the halfway point, it doesn't lesson the slow-burn horror. It's also one of those films whose influences are evident early on. There's a dash of folk horror, mixed with The Hills Have Eyes, with a sprinkle of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for good measure. While some of The Seeding's metaphors are a bit too overstated, and while not all of the concepts fully gel, there's still plenty here to enjoy, especially the performances and cinematography.
Directed and written by Barnaby Clay, the film stars Scott Haze as Wyndham Stone, a photographer out for a drive who spots a boy wandering on his own. Wyndham tries to help the boy locate his parents, which turns out to be a terrible decision. Wyndham gets trapped in a desert canyon. There, he encounters the reclusive Alina (Kate Lyn Sheil), who lives off the grid. He also faces a sadistic pack of young men who work in tandem with Alina. They even deliver food to her and lower it in the canyon.
Filmed in Utah, The Seeding stuns with its cinematography ,the product of Robert Leitzell. The desert canyon looks beautiful at times, while feeling entrapping at other points. In several scenes, Haze is shot against nature, specifically the otherworldly mountains or against the vast blue sky. it makes him look small and helpless against his surroundings, which underscores his dangerous predicament.
The film's other main positive is the performances by its leads. Haze does a fine job playing a city guy changed by his situation, until he eventually resembles a cave man in appearance after months and months pass. Sheil, who horror fans will recognize from You're Next and She Dies Tomorrow, gives an equally good performance, even if it's unclear at first what exactly her character is.
The pack of boys, meanwhile, will call to mind The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Their cannibalism and sadism is hinted at from the opening. They grow more and more dangerous as the runtime trudges on. To add, while Alina's intentions may not be fully clear at first, when her true plans are revealed, the viewer won't be surprised. The ending is a bit predicable, especially considering the film's title, though still gripping and bloody. And while this film is generally slower paced, there are some truly terrifying visuals here and gruesome moments in the high desert.
The Seeding's main flaw is that some of its metaphors hit you over the head. They're not really woven into the narrative, and instead, stated out loud by some of the characters, especially Alia. Still, there's more here to enjoy than not, especially the visuals and performances. Despite some of its conceptual flaws, The Seeding makes for a striking and engrossing watch with some true moments of terror.
The Seeding hits theaters and VOD on January 26.