Sunday, August 17, 2014

WORM (2013) Special Edition DVD

WORM (2013) 
Label: Synapse Films 
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 94 minutes
Region Code: region FREE
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Doug Mallette
Starring: John Ferguson, Shane O'Brien, Jes Mercer


Synapse as a brand for me is defined by classic horror and cult films renewed with superior PQ and new extras - from classic Hammer Horror to vintage slasher and exploitation classics. Don May and the crew always do a superb job bringing new life to cult-classics. Occasionally Synapse will stray from the familiar and offer something fresh and slightly askew into the mix. A few that come to mind are the French sci-fi film Resonnances (2006) and the surreal revenger South of Heaven (2008) and now we can add Worm (2013) from Nashville filmmaker Doug Mallette to the list of new and askew. 

In this science fiction thriller we are introduced to a wold bereft of dreams - we have somehow been deprived of this mental escape and things just don't seem the same, somethings missing. All that changes with the introduction of Fantasites - a genetically engineered parasite-worm that allows you to once again experience dreams when you. All you gotta to do is drop one of the creepy-crawlies into your ear at night just before bed and next thing you know you're living out your nocturnal fantasies! This new dream-aid is a huge success from the start - garnering both accolades and opposition. 

Enter a socially awkward young man named Charles (John Ferguson) the son of a maintenance man at an apartment complex. Charles has zero friends and not much charisma to speak of - a bit of a weird kid. He tries to buddy-up with one of the tenants named Reed (Shane O'Brien) but fails desperately and miserable. Reed's girlfriend June (Jes Mercer) takes pity of the poor guy and arranges for a play date of sorts much to her boyfriend's chagrin. 
When Charles discovers that Reed and June are taking a nightly dose of the wriggly dream aid he follows suit hoping that the Fantasites somehow make his dull existence just a little more interesting - and they do. 

He begins hanging out with June and an attraction develops between the two and just when things seem great they get complicated. For starters the Government outlaws the use of Fantasites when they discover just how addictive the worms are - and that they feed on the brain. Soon enough the only way to find 'em is through illicit means and both Charles and Reed are seriously jonesing for a worm-fix this becoming entangled in the burgeoning  underground drug culture - their involvement spirals out of control as they set about cracking open the skulls to extract the worms for their own use. 

Worm starts off strong with a unique idea - dream inducing worms. Watching it you can see that it was obviously shot for a dime but the digital cinematography and strong production values go a long way - now we have a unique concept and precision execution. The science fiction elements here do not require a lot of resources - night crawlers are about $2.49 a dozen at the local bait shop. Also enhancing the story is decent amount of peripheral world building by way of TV news casts and commercials which drop the necessary expository stuff plus the bonus of a catchy jingle for a puppy adoption agency. 

The entire cast turn in acceptable performances with some decent exchanges between the characters - especially from the three main characters - who have to deal with a love triangle, addiction and awkward situations. So what we have is a great concept deftly executed by a young cast of filmmakers - there's a lot to like here. Watching this I was reminded a bit of the no-budget science fiction film Nothing (2003) from Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali which did a lot with a little and then you throw in some fun Cronenberg-esque body horror on top of it. 
At the end of the day I didn't love the film but I did enjoy it and respect it for being unique - which is something quite rare and should be applauded. Looking forward to what comes next from director Doug Mallette.

Special Features:
- WORM – Original Short Film (8 minutes)
- Deleted Scenes (11 minutes)
- Audio Commentary Featuring Jeremy Pearce, Julian Herrera, Jennifer Bonior and Doug Mallette
- Original Trailers (4 minutes)