First off, Seed was written and directed by Uwe Boll. That should tell you a lot right there. Even if you haven’t seen his other films, including House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, and Bloodrayne, it should tell you a lot. I know he directed Seed because my DVD copy of the film includes a sticker on its cover that reads, ‘From Acclaimed Director Uwe Boll.’
Maybe this is a different Uwe Boll. But no, a preview for Postal preceding the feature confirms that this is the same Uwe Boll. So maybe the sticker was meant as a warning, affixed there by a concerned employee at the distribution center or video store? But then why use the word ‘acclaimed’? Maybe he or she meant declaimed?
Anyway, the movie does include a real onscreen warning, alerting viewers that the film includes real footage that is meant “to make a statement about humanity.” The footage turns out to be of animals—mostly dogs—being beaten, tortured and killed. It’s disgusting, disturbing stuff, but it’s not horror movie disgusting and disturbing, it’s watching human garbage violate helpless animals disgusting and disturbing.
So what’s the statement here? That humanity includes giant wastes of flesh who like to take out their uselessness on animals? Thanks, Uwe. Never woulda guessed. And what exactly is the message in the context of the film? We see the killer, Max Seed, watching these images. So are we to believe that he is as much of a sac of dicks as the guys on the video? Are we supposed to think he’s a monster, a monster so monstrous that he enjoys watching other monsters commit monstrosities? Cause these guys, the guys abusing these animals, they aren’t monsters. Monsters is giving them far too much credit. These are pathetic, maladjusted children in adult bodies, so worthless in every way that, in all likelihood, if killed, they would be missed by absolutely no one.
So is that the point? Are we meant to watch a movie about a killer who is a pathetic piece of shit who isn’t even worth our attention other than to wish he didn’t exist at all?
But no, Uwe assures us that Seed is a genuine monster by showing us a headline declaring that our killer is responsible for the deaths of 666 people in six years. Okay, let’s examine that a moment. Let’s set aside the painfully obvious biblical reference—to achieve such a bodycount, Seed would have to kill an average of one person every three days or so, without ever getting caught. That alone is a mind-bogglingly unlikely accomplishment—unless we’re to believe Seed is a one-man al Qaeda cell with access to a few suitcase bombs and the odd low-flying airliner. But, again, no; we actually get to witness Seed’s preferred method of murder. He locks his victims in a kinda-sorta cell and lets them starve to death.
Once every three freakin’s days.
So, given that a human being can live for about 12 to 14 days without sustenance, Seed either accelerates the starving process somehow (here I picture him feeding his victims handfulls of laxatives), or he starves a few of them at a time. But there’s no indication that he has more than one cell (unless they all look exactly the same, which is possible, I guess), nor is there a generous coating of human feces on the cell floor, so . . .
To be entirely honest, Seed wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Of course, my expectations were so low that, as long as no boom mics dipped into the frame and no thumb snuck onto the lens, they would be surpassed. Hell, maybe that was the point of the sticker: to ensure low expectations. The film isn’t badly photographed, though entire scenes take place in darkness so frustratingly absolute that kills are often reduced to a hint of movement and the sound of something hard striking something soft.
The acting isn’t so much bad as it is wooden, flat, which is usually better than over-the-top and grating. Even in scenes in which characters are meant to emote, it’s as though they were captured as one-offs rather than as part of a complete performance. I picture Boll being like, “Okay, Michael, now cry . . . Okay, good, ACTION while he’s crying!” After a moment, he’d go, “Okay, CUT while he’s crying. That’s enough. Who’s got my sandwich?”
Boll’s greatest weakness is that he has no concept of proper storytelling. Seed is a narrative mess from start to finish. There’re a myriad flashbacks, but it’s never clear from when and to when we are flashing back. A few sartorial hints suggest that at least a few scenes take place in the late ‘seventies, but do any of them take place in the present? Half the film is devoted to backstory, which can be summed up thusly: Seed is an unbelievably prolific serial killer being hunted by Detective Bishop, who finally captures him after a ridiculously anti-climactic fight scene, then Seed is strapped to an electric chair that has seen better days and is unable to perform (don’t worry, chair; it happens to the best of us), so Seed, having now twice ridden the lightning, is buried alive. Then comes back.
So don’t you think the film should have focused on that last phrase up there, those last three words? Instead Boll tries—so haaaaaard—for deep characterization and a complex backstory, stuff that could’ve been and should’ve been the topic of a single, brief but intense flashback or maybe even a conversation. But no, we jump back and forth and back again, I think, only to learn that this is a movie about a sac-wearing killer bent on revenge. Way to reinvent the wheel, Uwe.
And the kills? Well, as mentioned, many of them are so swaddled in darkness they might as well happen off screen. But Boll is all about pushing the envelope, right? I mean, this is the guy who gave us a movie intercut with actual videogame footage. So here Boll presents us with six minutes of a woman being hit upside the head with a hammer. Who is she? No clue. Why does Seed want her dead? No idea. Guess he just decided to make a kill-stop on his way to, y’know, killing people he actually hates. Maybe this is the Seed equivalent of a smoke break, or having a Kit Kat.
The scene is pointless, clearly just Tarantino-esque artistic masturbation on Boll’s part. This isn’t about the audience. This is just some idea Boll got into his head and decided to do it, whether it made narrative or dramatic sense or not. So we get six minutes of hammer. Six minutes, friends.
The film finishes with a down ending. Well, it would be a down ending if we came even close to caring about the characters, which we don’t.
There’s really no reason to watch this movie—unless you want to see a woman pummeled with a hammer for six minutes, in which case go to it, but do me a favor and don’t come back. Okay? Okay.
Length: 90 min