“SEEDS” from debut writer/director Owen Long is hitting DVD and digital platforms on September 24th. Starring Owen’s brother Trevor Long and Andrea Chen this story centers of a man whose dark depravities have spun out of control. To detach from things and to attempt rebuilding his psyche he retreats to his coastal New England family home. But he doesn’t find the isolation he seeks. Instead he tries to hold a fragile control over his fears and deep seeded desires as they begin to haunt him with an increasing severity.
This is a movie that has a lot going for it despite some of its flaws. As a full-feature debut for Owen Long this is easily considered a success. It isn’t perfect, but few movies are and for every minor issue I had with it, I was able to find a couple things I liked to grab onto. The story hovers between psychological-thriller and traditional horror and it does find a nice place for itself. But it also failed to align with one or the other and thus did leave me wanting a little more from it. The story-line does an effective job of capturing the mental breakdown of the main character and it was modestly intriguing to see play out. However, despite some interesting moments of appealing sinister visuals, it didn’t maneuver around as much in the horror genre as I would have preferred.
This one centers Marcus (Trevor Long) who without question has a dark side to him. While at this home his niece Lily (Andrea Chen) and nephew arrive, and as a favor he agrees to look after them. There is an awkward attraction between Marcus and Lily and the film embraces it early on. This is the catalyst that begins to break Marcus down as he grapples with the temptation of Lily. Who hasn’t shied away from the fact she’s all grown up and like him, curious about their not so innocent connection. It’s a bit uneasy at times but the dynamic between them is what seems to fuel this illness he had takeover him soon after arriving. This moral battle manifests itself in a series of horror-themed visuals here and there that I thought were a nice complement. Something the film could have used more of in my opinion.
Because it was the flow of the narrative that I had the biggest issue with. After an interesting first-act and a satisfying closing one, a bulk of the middle did feel repetitive. The tease of this forbidden urge between uncle and niece is plotted nicely early on. It frames the crumbling of Marcus from a mental aspect as he fights off temptation. However, this tease felt like it was delivered a handful of times to the point it made the story feel like it was meandering around for a bulk of the second-act. The performances certainly carry the material, but not enough to keep segments from dragging. This repetition killed much of the emotional intensity when with a couple tweaks it could have properly fueled it.
The performances from Long and Chen are the shining light. The plot itself is relatively captivating, and with a few edits it could have ramped up the momentum with a much higher level of intrigue. Still, watching Long and Chen pour themselves into these roles was enjoyable to watch. There was a natural chemistry between them that sold their uneasy dynamic, and they landed the emotional layering with sincerity. Long did a great job of capturing the visible torment of the character and as the story continues and the character sinks intro darker territory, Long felt extremely natural. Chen was able to capture that perfect blend of innocence and maturity that was able to make this otherwise considered taboo of a plot work effectively to create a sinister plot-line.
From a technical aspect it was a nicely shot film with Owen Long showing a creative and artistic eye behind the camera. It’s a moody film from the aspect of the narrative. It’s a slow burn that gradually increases the tension and visually Long through his direction was able to cast a complementary atmosphere to it all. The use of shadowing and lighting created an appealing ominous vibe that could have been utilized much more had the overall tone of the film not been as somber. But regardless it was an interesting film from a fist time writer/director that has a lot of potential. Who was able to maximize the talent of his two leads letting them carry the film. And if you like these types of slow-burning psychological-thrillers that work in splashes of horror, then “Seeds” is certainly worth a shot.