In this movie ‘Growth’ we are transported to Cuttyhunk Island, a lovely little enclave in the northeastern part of the United States where some years back Dr. Mason Lane (Ian Patrick Williams) found a way to manipulate some genetical stuff, amped up the way that oysters make pearls, and the money was rolling in. Now if I’m a genetic scientist and I’ve found a way to manipulate parasites to create a better oyster, I’m thinking my next logical move would be mussels or lobsters or something. Not Dr. Lane who made the seismic leap from oysters to humans. My man was using parasites to manipulate the genetic structure of humans to make us bigger, faster, stronger and smarter. Makes sense to me. Guess what? It didn’t work. Or it did work, but it eventually turned the humans into super strong zombie monsters. No worries… I mean there are huge worries… but no Extinction Level Event worries because this place is surrounded by seawater and the parasites burn when they come in contact with this and disaster is averted. Yay!
Fast forward to Cuttyhunk twenty years later, and we have some attractive, sexually charged young people with bad cellphone service that we have to meet. There’s Jamie (Micrea Monroe), who happens to be Dr. Lane's niece and who used to live on Cuttyhunk as a kid. Dr. Lane has recently passed away and left her the deed to some land which Jamie plans to flip for a cool two mil. To help her out with this deal Jamie has brought along her boyfriend Marco (Brian Krause), her slutty best friend Amanda (Jill Hoiles) and her sickly cousin Justin (Christopher Shand). Or maybe he’s her brother. Or step brother. I forget.
Now the people on the island had thought they’d eradicated the parasite menace years ago but damn if these things haven’t made a grand return. It’s kind of gross because what they do is burrow into our skin and then slither around a bit before madly replicating themselves before exiting out your eyeballs. Now the principles in charge need to figure out what to do, these principles being Dr. Macavire (Lou Richards) who is left figuring out a way to get rid of the menace, which he sucks at, Mr, Larkin the mayor
(Richard Reihle) who is panicking, which he’s very good at and Sheriff Jake (Robert Pike Daniel) who is responsible for shooting people in the head who looks like they might remotely infected. He’s great at this.
The mayor is confused as to why Jamie has come back and wants her to leave. Now. Jamie’s not going anywhere. Amanda the slut really likes sickly Justin for some reason but Justin is too sickly to handle his business, that is until he gets a sudden parasite boost. Now Justin is totally badass. But the worst part is that there is a monster in a hoodie floating around the island and this monster has a plan with little Jamie being the centerpiece of this plan. Why? Hell if I know.
From where we were sitting here at the FCU, Gabriel Cowan’s ‘Growth’ wasn’t all that bad of a mini creature feature. I did get a little confused as to what the evil dudes master play was, something having to do with Jamie having the cure to the parasite disease, but nobody wanting him to have this cure. Now I’d think having a cure to this would be a good thing but somewhere along the line I lost the connection as to why it would ultimately be a bad thing. But even still, just buy into the fact that it’s bad and move along.
In many ways it stock horror… kids on vacay, lousy cell phone service, some of them horny, jockish hero, virginal-esque heroine. I gotta say, even though Brian Krause is my main man and all, he did seem a little long in the tooth to be hanging out with these kids. It’s all good though. But the point is the movie does pretty much stick to convention.
What sets it apart, at least a little, is the parasite angle, some suitably yucky parasite imagery, the isolated location and a dreary atmosphere. Some of the parasite stuff was done well enough to make your skin crawl, and some of the CGI was a bit dodgy in spots, but overall it was effective in putting across the clear message that parasites up in you is a bad thing. In case you didn’t know that already. The performances were more than adequate for was asked, Robert Pike Daniel in particular was kind of funny as the no-nonsense clean up man, if only because he was so unfunny in the seriousness in which he took his job. The narrative does have a wonky launching point, rewriting human DNA using parasites, but once you accept it, as if you have a choice, the movie moves along a decent pace, erratic at times maybe, but it does move.
There’s nothing particularly special or too terribly unique about ‘Growth’ as a work of cinema, but it is functional, competent and it didn’t feel like a waste of time when the final credits rolled. That might not sound like a scintillating recommendation, but we’ll take it over some of what we’ve been putting up with lately.