Friday 16 February 2024

Horror Film Review: The Seeding (2023) ★★★★☆ (Independent Film)

Do you ever get the feeling you’re going to like a film, right from the first minute? In the opening scene of Barnaby Clay’s The Seeding, a long-haired toddler walks onto screen, gnawing what turns out to be a dismembered man’s finger. Settle down, get comfortable, because The Seeding  is a wild yet deeply uncomfortable ride.

A man looks up above him. In the background is a shack and a sheet of rock

Amateur photographer Wyndham Stone (Scott Haze, Venom) is on location in the desert to capture a solar eclipse. As the day winds down, he knows he needs to leave the desert and get back to civilisation. Fate intervenes when a boy appears, claiming to have lost his family. Against his better judgement, Wyndham follows and then loses the boy.

As night falls, he spies a woman walking into a cabin at the bottom of a canyon. He climbs down into the canyon to speak to the woman, who convinces him to share a meal and rest for the night. His nightmare begins the next morning when he realises he has no way of leaving the canyon.

A woman weeps, agony on her face

There is a significant amount of misdirection in The Seeding and it’s likely that everything the viewer believes will turn out to be a lie. Is Wyndham a typical bro who deserves everything that’s coming to him? Is the woman, Alina (Kate Lyn Sheil, V/H/S) a victim who needs saving? Can Wyndham fix the manic gang of sadistic boys that watch their every move? What is actually happening here?

What do they want?

The effect is claustrophobic and quite agonising as the viewer cringes for Wyndham’s every experience. The Seeding is not scary as such, but embodies every person’s definition of horror and powerlessness.

Feral boys look down from the top of a cliff in The Seeding (2023)

Shot on location in Kanab, Utah, The Seeding features some stunning cinematography. The viewer is treated to starry vistas at night, the silhouette of the photographer as he captures the eclipse, and unsettling views of the arid desert.

Down in the canyon, the curtain of rock surrounding the tiny cabin is omnipresent and unsettling. Meanwhile, seen through Wyndham’s photographic eye, the cabin and canyon are full of trinkets and broken paraphernalia, artefacts of past lives and broken dreams.

The cast of The Seeding is tiny. Scott Haze and Kate Lyn Sheil give excellent performances as Wyndham and Alina and special mention must go to the cast of feral boys. Like Wyndham, the viewer never really gets to see them directly yet their menace is abundantly clear.

A man hangs from a rope in front of a sheet of rock
I give The Seeding an excellent four out of five stars and recommend to fans of independent, claustrophobic and folk horror. Director Barnaby Clay joins the rank of great horror directors such as Ryan Kruger who have made the move from directing music videos to delivering atmospheric, visually appealing horror.

The Seeding is available to own or rent in the UK & Ireland from 12th February via Amazon, AppleTV, Google, Sky Store and Virgin Media Store.

The Seeding (2023) Trailer. Directed by Barnaby Clay


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