Starring: Mircia Munroe, Christopher Shand, Brian Krause, Norma Kirkpatrick,
In 1985, in a scientific community on a Cuttyhunk Island, a group of scientists were working on creating a parasite which would enhance human abilities, such as strength, speed and sensory perception. However, disaster struck as the parasites mutated, multiplied and took over their hosts while eating them from the inside. Two dozen test subjects and a number of scientists were killed before the situation was brought under control. Lead scientist Dr Ackerman manages to get her daughter Jamie to safety before losing her own life.
In the present day, Jamie (Munroe) travels to the island in order to make preparations to sell her family’s property which has been left dormant since the disaster. Travelling with her are her step brother Justin (Shands), her boyfriend Marco and best friend Kristin. As they set about making repairs, Jamie starts to unlock long buried memories of those last fateful days on the island. Meanwhile, there is an outbreak of parasites once more – but why now?
Director Gabriel Cowan takes a no-name cast and a low-level fx budget, and manages to provide a reasonably decent slice of horror entertainment. Whilst not as successful as Slither, this tale of body-snatching parasitic worms works quite well.
Growth opens with a great credit sequence made of “documentary footage” shot in 1985, showing the initial outbreak of parasite infestation during a press conference. Further footage shows attempts to quell the infestation. It’s a great, atmospheric start.
Then we cut back to the present, and are introduced to our 20-somethings, led by Jamie. Thanks to the nosey questions posed by a neighbour who gives them a lift, we get all the background we need for these bickering people.
Of the cast, Christopher Shand and Norma Kirkpatrick stand out and have the best dialogue to work with. You can tell from the off that Kristin has something of an immature crush on Justin – the sort where you flirt by picking on them rather than expressing your feelings.
Justin is the first of the group to be infected, after an ill-advised dip in a local lake, and Christopher Shand does an excellent job of conveying the transformation that takes place. He goes from a goofy guy to someone much more focussed in the blink of an eye, and really sells the change in his body without the aid of any fx whatsoever.
Speaking of fx, it’s a shame that Growth went for pure CGI instead of including some real props. The parasitic worms are serviceable and the way they ripple under the skin is quite unsettling, but you never get away from the fact that it’s just a CG effect. There are a couple of nice gore fx along the way but unfortunately they don’t make much sense in the context of the story.
The main problem with Growth is that it doesn’t know what sort of story it wants to tell or who it’s main focus is. As a result, a major plot strand is left dangling at the end with no closure. However, the epilogue makes for an enticing idea for a sequel.
has some good ideas but doesn’t really know what to do with them, and is hampered by one or two silly monster fx. However overall it is quite entertaining and fits the bill of “B”movie rather well.