The Fly: Cronenberg Horror Still Stings With Great Performances and Effects

5 out of 5 stars (one of my favorite movies)

The Fly poster
Image from http://burokasdesign.blogspot.com/

David Cronenberg’s The Fly is one of my favorite horror movies.  It has relatable characters, a fascinating story, and fantastic practical effects that hold up just as well now as they did back in 1986.  While this “body-horror” film will certainly be too much for those with weak constitutions (I still feel sick at certain points despite having seen the film several times), fans of the “science gone wrong” genre will absolutely eat this up.

 

The story follows scientist Seth Brundle (a perfectly cast Jeff Goldblum), a man on the brink of perfecting teleportation.  The socially awkward Brundle allows journalist Veronica (Geena Davis) to record his experiments for prosperity.  The only problem is Veronica’s boss and creepy ex-boyfriend Stathis (a greasy John Getz) wants to run the story ASAP and gets a little jealous when she and Seth begin a more-than-businesslike relationship.

In a drunken stupor, Seth believes Veronica is going to cheat on him with Stathis and decides to enter the teleportation pod himself.  It works, and everything seems on the up-and-up until Seth starts exhibiting more aggressive personality traits, a highly increased sex drive, and a penchant for sugar.  Now, Veronica must piece together what went wrong in the teleporter and reverse it before it’s too late.

David Cronenberg (also known for cult hits Scanners and Videodrome) takes a surprisingly story-driven approach the material, spending the entire first half focusing on the characters (with some brief and isolated gory scenes) rather than bombarding us with one gore effect after another.  It almost feels like a quirky romantic comedy tat first, then slowly reveals its true colors.  The “downside” to that is that people expecting 95 straight minutes of gore may be disappointed (I’ll openly admit that, upon first viewing, I felt there should have been more blood), but Cronenberg more than compensates in the second half, utilizing Oscar-winning practical effects to create some of the scariest and most grotesque images put on film.

The acting is great from all three leads.  Goldblum immediately sells his nerdy and socially awkward character, disappearing within the first few frames.  He is also believable in the more aggressive scenes, but is occasionally let down by some over-masculine dialogue.  Davis shines in the role of a woman having to care for the man she loves as he turns into something inhuman, never overacting the material.  John Getz is also great, but isn’t as interesting as the other leads.

The makeup and practical effects are terrifying.  The creature’s different forms are beautifully disgusting and produce shock and awe whenever in the frame.  I challenge anyone to see those effects and not be uncomfortable at the very least.  They are memorable and creative without going over-the-top, with the final transformation being one of the scariest moments of my life.

The Fly is a tragic, terrifying, and tenacious film that soars on classic performances, a solid script, and gorgeous practical effects.

Likely Rated R For Bloody Sci-Fi Horror Violence, Sexual Content, and Some Language

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