The Spawning (2017) (82 minutes)
Directed by Simon Riley.
Written by Simon Riley.
Starring Zoe Karpeta, Reid Anderson and Liam Millard.
When an alien from another world crashes to earth via meteor and takes human form to hide in plain sight, it’s not rocket science to establish they’re not here to do any good. In fact all nastiness is planned as it’s on the hunt to impregnate a female to birth its own spawn!
The Spawning’s premise is simple enough, with clear influences of 70s & 80s British low budget sci-fi which I do have an affinity for, so I was so wanting The Spawning to succeed. Unfortunately what we get is a strained affair that may have played out better as a short.
The film tries to present itself as a character piece with an undercurrent sci-fi threat which is its biggest mistake. I can understand the process of building tension, atmosphere and creating empathy for its characters before the inevitable happens, but by getting from point A to point B the film is extremely lethargic with some very unnecessary scenes indeed. Shooting on a shoestring budget is understandably tough and I tilt my hat and commend the filmmakers for having the balls and passion to make the project happen, but I was also left scratching my head.
There’s some really effective scenes of the alien walking through the city at night, just against the ambient score, and of its crash landing in the forest, which are both handled pretty well, it’s just a shame there wasn’t more of this.
The film follows the character of Amy (Zoe Karpeta) who’s expecting a baby with her partner John (Liam Millard). Zoe is an overall victim from start to finish. She’s naive, gullible and let’s John basically walk over her. Traumatized through finding out John’s cheating she is then sexually assaulted during a night out, but is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she then invites into her home. Unbeknown to her he doesn’t actually leave after his coffee and once reunited with John the stranger embarks in some celestial sexual assault himself.
Unfortunately things don’t kick into action until around the hour mark. The practical special effects are a nice throwback to films such as Xtro. If anything is going to save The Spawning it’s these. They’re mucky and wet and it’s a joy to see filmmakers prepared to have patience and use this technique, it’s just a shame it’s spoilt with CGI fire later on which once again is unnecessary. The performances overall are limited also, which is quite telling when there’s almost an hour’s build up in dialogue.
The Spawning’s ultimate curse is that it’s too ambitious for a full feature due to its acting limitations and unnecessary scenes. I would have liked to have seen it if these were removed and actor Reid Anderson, who plays the alien, given more screen time because he’s by far the most authentic.