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SEEDS (2019)

Directed by Owen Long
Written by Owen Long (story), Steven Weisman (screenplay)
Starring Trevor Long, Andrea Chen, Garr Long, Kevin Breznahan, Chris McGarry, Michelle Liu Coughlin, Adrian Enscoe, Shannon Hartman, John Emigh, Uatchet Jin Juch, Abby Mills, Lowry Marshall, Amber Namery, Griffith Long, Nicholas Toppel, Bob Dio, Greer Long, Santi Meunier, Carolyn Colton, Allie Marshall, Brelin Maryah

Those creeped out by POSSUM will definitely find this film similarly cringe-inducing as it nestles deeply into the mind of a man plagued by taboo feelings. While it is an uncomfortable subject to watch unfold, SEEDS tells the nuanced and tragic tale of a man on the verge of pedophilia with rich metaphors and tension-filled moments. The film focuses on the relationship between an older man and a younger woman, but it is mainly about the pangs of temptation that could just as easily apply to the pull towards alcoholism, drug addiction, and any other socially, morally, and devastatingly harmful feelings one might be cursed with.

Marcus (Trevor Long) is a middle-aged man suffering from what seems to be a midlife crisis. For vague reasons, his wife and child are gone from his life. After a night in the city leaves a dead body in his shower, Marcus contacts a Harvey Keitel Wolf-like fixer named Evan (Kevin Breznahan) to get rid of the body, provide him some drugs, and clean up the situation. While this is happening, Marcus retreats to his boyhood home which is right next door to his brother Michael’s home which houses Marcus’ pre-teen nephew Spencer (Garr Long) and his teenage niece Lily (Andrea Chen). When Michael has to leave for a few days, he leaves his kids with Marcus, not knowing that sometime in the past, Marcus and Lily have shared feelings towards one another. Marcus attempts to hold back these unnatural feelings, but as pressure from Lily intensifies to move the relationship forward and Marcus continues to unravel with alcohol and drugs, it becomes more difficult to resist his urges. Meanwhile, a dark spider-like entity resides in the shadowy corners of the house, creeping ever closer to those caught up in this terrifying web of depravity.

SEEDS is a more horrific version of LOLITA or AMERICAN BEAUTY, where the main character is sexually tempted by a much younger girl. The film uses the metaphor of the spider-like creature to give form to Marcus’ abhorrible feelings of pedophilia towards his own niece. This is dark subject matter to deal with, folks. And I think the filmmakers should be commended for trying to tackle this subject in such a mature, thoughtful, and distinct way. This is a story about a monster. The creature that lurks in the shadows and in Marcus’ dreams is quite terrifying and given only the hint of shape. The effects in SEEDS are simple, yet effective all the way through, making the visage of the monster just as squirm-activating as the taboo subject matter.

Actor Trevor Long is excellent as Marcus, actually making you feel for a man capable of such despicable acts. Even though he is introduced partying with a woman who ends up dead via overdose in his shower at the beginning and continues to have these deviant feelings, somehow Long got me to feel for him as the story went on. That is talent. Andrea Chen is electrifying as Lily, a troubled youth who was obviously scarred and manipulated by Marcus as a child and somehow warped that into yearnings for a relationship as she grows more mature. Both lead actors boldly go where many would refuse to go in this sensitive day and age we live in that prefers the blindfold to a discussion.

The beauty of SEEDS is how vague things are. We never find out why Marcus’ family is gone. There are obvious reasons we can put together, but it’s never made clear. It’s also never made clear that Marcus and Lily have done anything in the past before this most recent visit. It might have been that they have been flirting with one another or that Marcus has been grooming her all this time. Marcus is a complex character as he tells himself he knows what’s right and wrong yet puts himself in the situation where he knows he will be tempted to give into his urges. There is much to be read in between the lines and slithering tentacles of SEEDS.

Some may read about the subject matter of this film and choose to not see it. I find this totally understandable. It is a hard subject to talk about, let alone reserve an hour and a half of one’s life to watching it. But I also feel that this is an important story to be told as understanding a problem is an absolutely wonderful way to solve it. It is easy to turn a blind eye to taboo subject matter like pedophilia, but that won’t make it go away. SEEDS bravely attempts to understand the struggle Marcus goes through. Does it fetishize the attraction between an older man and a younger woman? Yes, but only when it is seen through Marcus’ fantasies and even those moments are few and far between. SEEDS is a courageous story that really gets down and dirty, unafraid to offend and willing to go places that most mainstream films won’t go. Filmmaker Owen Long delivers riveting cinema all the way through in the way we intimately get to know this tragic, troubled, and yes, downright despicable man-monster. SEEDS isn’t comfortable horror, but it is horrifying through and through.