Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Organizm (2008)

The first time I tried to watch Organizm (aka Living Hell) I had to switch it off at less than the 10 minute mark because it was already exceedingly dull. A few days later, I made myself try to watch it again…and was pleasantly surprised to find that though it isn’t a good film, it is a not-so-terrible time-waster when you’ve got an hour and a half to kill.

On a remote army base that is set to be demolished, a hidden room is found containing a dangerous biological experiment from 1959. Driven by childhood memories of his mother warning him of the danger of what’s hidden on the base, Frank Sears (Johnathan Schaech) sets out to warn the U.S. Military before it’s too late…but nonetheless they inadvertently release a lethal organism with a shockingly fast growth rate. As it grows, devouring people, buildings and anything else in its path, Frank and hazmat specialist Carrie Freeborn (Erica Leerhsen) must find a way to destroy it before it covers the entire planet.

I wasn’t expecting much out of a movie that premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel, but Organizm (a much better name than the misleading “Living Hell” moniker) is a brainlessly fun movie that forces you to abandon logic and just enjoy the (bumpy) ride.

The film’s saving grace is the quick pace that keeps you interested despite its many plot holes. The organism spreads so fast that there is only time for the characters to react and spring into action. While the script is littered with plot inconsistencies and things occur a bit too coincidentally for my tastes, the relatively quick clip of the film thankfully doesn’t leave much time to dwell on such annoyances.

Also, despite the low budget, B-movie feel of the film, the cast is surprisingly solid, especially the two leads. First off, Johnathon Schaech is wonderful as the mysterious yet deeply scarred (physically as well as emotionally) Frank Sears. His growth as a character, from meek schoolteacher to desperate gate-crasher to blood-drenched hero, is a pleasure to watch! Erica Leerhsen also does a fantastic job as Carrie Freeborn, though I think her character could have been portrayed stronger.

On the bad side, some of the CGI work is absolutely atrocious, especially when practical effects should have been employed! Gun shot wounds should not be CGI’d! The organism itself, which looked like roots or gray plant tendrils, looked pretty good for the most part, but there are some instances where its roots and tendrils (especially when they were winding themselves around people’s bodies) looked pretty fake.

And, again, the script (written by Richard Jefferies, who also directed) was pretty awful, with no new twists attempted. The “military unleashes one of their unspeakable experiments and thinks it can solve the problem by blowing everything up to kingdom come” angle is pretty tired and cliché, even for a Sci-Fi Channel flick. I do wish something new had been attempted in the writing department, with a more polished final product.

Organizm isn’t a horrible movie, but it isn’t that great either. Still, you could do a lot worse. If you’re looking for a rental and all that’s left on the shelves are copies of Organizm or Kracker Jack’d I’d definitely go with Organizm for some mild (but not overly painful) entertainment.

Available on Amazon!

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