Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
Directed by David Cronenberg
Science Fiction/ Horror
Rated R: Violence, Gore, Frightening Images
I remember when I first saw the original “The Fly”. I was visiting my parents around New Year’s and I had just finished the movie when my mom came in the room and looked at the box for the DVD and said to me; “I don’t know how you can stand to watch that creepy stuff.” Well if she thinks a guy in a rubber fly mask is creepy than I hope by all that I hold holy that she never sees this remake.
The film introduces us to a reclusive scientist Dr. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) talking to journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) about his latest invention, Telepods, which are capable to teleporting, an object from one pod to another and offers her the opportunity to follow his progress exclusively, which she excepts, as the two slowly begin to fall in love. Conflict arises when Veronica’s editor, Stathis Borans (John Getz) threatens to reveal the telepods prematurely, leading Seth to jump the gun and test it on himself, not knowing that a common housefly got into the telepod with him, and together the two were merged and Seth and Vernoica slowly realize that Seth is morphing into a monster.
It is interesting to note how much like the remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (which also starred Jeff Goldblum) there is a shift in tone. The original “The Fly” was more focused on suspense, with the mystery sequence and the narrative told through voice over and flashbacks. Here the focus is more on horror, specifically Cronenberg’s signature style of body horror. Unlike the original Fly, the change from man to monster is gradual, forming a path in our head (aided by Goldblum’s unique tics) that helps us remember that this is the same man we’ve seen since the start of the film, regardless of how heavy or complex the makeup gets, especially helpful since the Goldblum’s makeup changes every time we see him. This is also what makes the scares so effective. When we see Seth’s fingernails break off or vomit corrosive acid or when his head quite literally collapses, it’s not shocking just because of what we see, its shocking because we’ve come to identify with his character and can empathize with his plight. The emphasis here is on “showing” as much as they could to iron out the instances of “telling” from the original.
The score by Howard Shore is absolutely fantastic, big and booming, accentuating the excitement and tension. Despite over two decades of technology, the animatronics still look incredible and help add a layer of realism to the situations, expect when they needed something to wringle, like with the dying baboon or the maggot baby, in instances like those it was apparent that it was operated by some kind of motor, but still impressive none the less. The film doesn’t have a “happy ending” coda like the original, which irritated me about that film so much, and here the lack one really does serve to pack a mighty wallop as you’re just left there to sit and take it all in while the end credits roll. If there was anything that the original had that I missed in the remake it, would be that “boom-boom” sound the teleporter in the original made that was just so eerie.
Neat little bit of trivia; Director David Cronenberg makes a cameo as the gynecologist who appears in Veronica’s dream. I like that. The director only appears in the story when the laws of reality are blurred, it reminds me of the thought that Alfred Hitchcock put into his own cameos, such as the one in “Rear Window” were he is winding a clock to symbolize how he is the one controlling time.
“The Fly” is a tragedy, pure and simple. Many of Brundle’s mutations serve as parallels for aging, drug addiction, sexually transmitted diseases and terminal illnesses. The acting is great, the pacing is terrific, the score is pulse pounding and the scares are genuinely effective. I will admit it is a not a film for everyone, but it is well executed.
4 1/2 out of 5. Outstanding.