Director – Joe Dante
Cast – Jason Priestley, Kerry Norton, Linda Darlow, Brenna O’Brien, Steve Lawlor, Elliott Gould, William S. Taylor
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Director Joe Dante made his mark on the horror scene with classics Pirahna, The Howling, Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (he also co-directed Twilight Zone: The Movie, but is not really “known” for that film). It came as no surprise to me that he was asked not to do one, but two entries into the “Masters of Horror” series. His second entry, “The Screwfly Solution” was one of the more unique plots I have seen in this series, and is sure to please those with an interest in biological and/or sociological commentary. Bio/socio commentary in a horror film? Yup, read on.
The Screwfly Solution stars Jason Priestley as Alan, a scientist who along with his partner Barney(Elliott Gould) have created a solution to the troublesome screwfly that inhabits the rainforests south of the US. By altering the male screwfly’s response to females by having sterilized the males, this forced the species to die off over several generations. While the two scientists made sure the solution used on the screwflies would not harm or effect any other organisms in the rainforest, they left out an important organism to consider…mankind. The eradication of the screwflies has sent a toxic airborne virus into the air, which thanks to the many wind currents circulating around the Earth, has sent this virus to all areas around what is known as the “Horse Latitudes”. Men all over this area have begun eradicating(killing, in other words) all females they come in contact with. While this is seen as some sort of Muslim religious tactic to continue their control over women, it becomes apparent that is not the case as non-religious men have begun to attack women around them as well. Soon enough, the scientists realize that mother nature has turned its back on mankind, and decided to rid itself of the very “pests” that have infested her, mankind.
I was iffy on this film at first. Its first act was not going the way I expected the film to go, but by the end climax I was happy to see that we had been given a horror film with some brains to it. Biology and sociology are two subjects that have always interested me, so naturally when both of those elements were employed in this film I was hooked. This film goes both ways as far as exploring both feminism and chauvinism and the horrors that can lie in both. The feminism shows just how close-minded some people can be and how they will distort it to meet their agenda, while the chauvinism was a bit more full frontal in that it was mainly just men hating women and seeing them as low and dirty creatures. Some may argue that this was caused by the virus, and it was, so you can see it as you wish. Either it is something engrained in men, or resulting as a by-product from an outside source(the virus). Keep in mind I am referring to this film, not necessarily in relation to real life scenarios. My favorite part of this film’s plot thought was its biological element. We see time and time again where mother nature will keep a species alive due to its importance to something, and kill off those who stand no reason for existing or have over-welcomed their stay. Mother nature seemed to feel that way about mankind in this flick, and at the hands of our own intellect and interest caused our own demise. If you think about it, Mother Nature(a woman?) caused all of the men exposed to the disease to kill off all women in sight instantly. Why would she do that? Well…in order to populate a species you need women. The same goes for the opposite, if you wish to rid of a species, you must rid of the only gender able to give birth…women. Think about it, if you wanted repopulate the Earth would you prefer 1,000 men and 1 woman, or 1,000 women and 1 man(preferably ME). Obviously, the more women, the more the population will rise. The opposite is what plays in effect in this one, and biologically…and to the dismay of many feminists…mother nature is right.
Joe Dante’s direction in this film is positive, and he stays true to live-action fashion and gives us some pretty sweet gore and kill scenes. The horror feels real, and you can see the paranoia that arises with the women vehemently trying to avoid contact with any man, including men they know and trust. The same conflict arises for our lead, Alan, as he must forcefully distance himself from his wife and young daughter in order to ensure their safety if he were to ever succumb to the disease. Pacing-wise Dante did a fine job, and managed to keep my interest throughout.
Overall, this is a nice entry into the “Masters of Horror” series that surprised me with itss thought provoking content. Those of you wishing to see a storyline unlike others(yes, similar but better than The Happening) then give this one a watch.
– I ranked this film #12 out of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.