Carpet design

The Seed director breaks down the film’s monster design and social commentary

The feature debut from writer and director Sam Walker, Seed combines a critique of modern society’s obsession with technology with a disgusting alien invasion film. This sci-fi horror film follows friends Deidre (Lucy Martin), Heather (Sophie Vavasseur) and Charlotte (Chelsea Edge) as they embark on a weekend getaway in the Mojave Desert. The trio plan to catch a meteor shower so Deidre can post it to her popular social media accounts. During the meteor shower, a strange being crashes into the girls’ pool. Charlotte decides to bring the thing to their vacation home, unaware of the grotesque consequences this choice will entail. What ensues is utter mayhem, along with some meaty social commentary that can hit audiences where it hurts.

Walker joined CBR for an exclusive interview, just in time for the release of the Shudder movie. The filmmaker discussed his cinematic influences and the dangers of social media, including the viral spread of misinformation.

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The woman seed who smokes in the swimming pool

RBC: Seed contains a lot of body horror. Would you say there is a specific horror director or specific movie that influenced your take?

Sam Walker: I was looking at Nicolas Roeg’s The man who fell to earth. You wouldn’t necessarily consider this a body horror movie, but the sex scene in the middle of it is definitely around the twist. This scene is such a bizarre imagination of the world. Also, there’s a painter called Ambera Wellmann who I’m a big fan of who paints these strange bodies that seem to fit together – quite an erotic kind of imagery. There’s one with a cat watching. It is this kind of fusion of forms in sexual activity with a small cat. I thought that was really great. It reminded me of a strange creature that watches people make love. So there were a bunch of different influences – a bit of films, paintings and performance art.

A movie that definitely came to mind while watching it Seed has been eraser head.

Oh yes, of course, eraser head! This movie has the best creature! The sensation of this creature in the scene where she starts foaming at her mouth is huge. Sometimes the thing with horror is that a monster can’t be scary if you can’t place it, if you don’t know exactly what it is. I feel like crocs are a bit of a thing now, but anything about eraser head still works. This movie is so weird it feels like it goes inside you. Oh I quote The thing also an influence!

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This leads me directly to my next question, which concerns the creature at the center of the film. Could you tell me a bit about how the creature was designed and what was used to represent the creature on the board?

I did a ton of work on the creature design. I was trying to find something that looked like it was from Earth, so the girls wouldn’t look stupid [not] pointing an alien right away. So it had to look like Earth, but also had to contain an extraterrestrial element. I ended up doing a Google search and came across some strange creatures that have washed up on the beaches. These things are animals whose skin has come off. There’s a three-toed sloth that I was quite a fan of. If you look at baby pandas, they’re screwed. Then there is also a pig dog that was found in the Philippines. It’s just amazing – very eraser headbut real.

We asked Dan Martin to do the thing. There are several different versions. We had a very limited budget, so we couldn’t get the creature to get up and run around, but I like the fact that we have a fairly quiet, rather benign creature. It seems quite weak. It’s like there’s something very powerful inside – like a portal if you will, through a carpet of meat to another galaxy where things are falling.

I mean, you always start with an idea of ​​how you want these things to work. The high bar for a movie like this is Extraterrestrial — the idea of ​​nature, caterpillars fertilized by wasps or whatever. An organization that starts really little. In a movie, characters will say, “Where did that little bug go?” So it’s not so little anymore. This transformation from one thing to another is just amazing to me. I guess anyone who has ever made a monster movie is influenced by this central idea in one way or another. So I wanted to do something along those lines, showing the different stages of the creature. I really wanted it to be a little weak and blind and weird, and to have something else inside.

That was how I felt a lot back then about social media. It looks like it’s one thing and you’re watching it — yeah, that’s cool, but you’re doing something completely different. When you’re not looking, it goes into your subconscious — reading you, manipulating your consciousness, permeating and destroying you. Seems like a pretty reasonable review of social media to me. Not necessarily platforms but the algorithms underneath [are these] nefarious dark forces that would grab our attention at any cost. It’s completely amoral. I also chatted with other people. It’s like your mom starts watching videos on YouTube. The next thing you know, she sends you stuff on QAnon, or goes all right or something. It can be very dangerous things. So I think with Seed, the idea here was something that looks simple, looks a bit silly, a bit benign, pitiful. But then guess what? It’s here to kill.

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Woman, bloody and looking scared

In other words, would you say that the creature, and perhaps social media, is out to slowly infiltrate you while tricking you into thinking it’s there to serve you?

Yes! I remember thinking, “We got to get into it.” I wanted to show that what the creature gives is pleasant. It’s nice to torture yourself. That was the feeling I had at the time on social media. It was like I could literally feel it alter my consciousness. I am someone who is aware that it alters my consciousness. I guess we all are to some extent, but no matter what, he finds a way in. He finds what can trigger you, and he goes there because he doesn’t care.

There was a documentary recently titled The social dilemma. In this documentary, there’s a giant Death Star supercomputer pointed at your head through your tiny device. Your thought, “I’m just looking at pictures. That’s cool.” It’s like “Yeah, but there’s a Death Star pointed at your head!” It was therefore the purpose of Seed. I wanted to make a fun and entertaining popcorn movie and hide that message in it. I think tons of people – artists, filmmakers… We all start thinking, “What’s up with those little boxes of doom?”

I also saw the film as a partial critique of capitalist America. Was that your intention?

Not so much capitalist America. I was thinking about social media, technology. These things kind of have a way of being done… While I was making the movie, I started to realize that the creature wasn’t just representing social media. There is something else in there. An idea comes along and people start to covet it because it makes them feel a certain way. Then there is greed. In the movie, Deidre wants to keep it and make a ton of money out of it. So actually, yeah. I guess in that sense it’s a critique of that capitalist way of thinking. I mean, imagine finding an alien and only thinking about the value of the thing! Ah, maybe I would do the same. [laughs] Not really!

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What do you think works best when adapting alien conspiracy theories to film?

Hmm, I don’t know. I guess there are a bunch of movies that did that in an earlier era. They live is ahead. It’s in your face. It is a complete critique of capitalist America, a critique of many other nations. If you are watching a movie that was released Extraterrestrialit also has the faceless corporation, the amoral computer, the fear of technology.

I went to the San Sebastián Horror and Fantasy Film Festival this year. A lot of the movies there were all about technology and social media. It’s like everyone is starting to realize that this is a potentially destructive and dangerous thing. It is something that we must master. It’s not a shiny, shiny thing that we can easily control. I suspect there will be a ton more movies of this nature coming out in the future.

So, do you see us as guinea pigs in the age of social networks?

Oh yes. We need to find the switch and turn it off. There’s nothing wrong with sharing photos, but it quickly finds your weaknesses and reveals them. Whatever your weakness, he will find it. Who cares. It’s just an algorithm! It’s like Hal’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I think the fear of technology has been around for a long time, right? There is this greed, this desire to make a lot of money while undermining and manipulating our subconscious. Think Brexit in England. It’s a complete disaster because of the government, but people are being targeted online to believe that immigrants are the problem and not that the banks stole all the money! It’s targeted.

Tome, Seed represents how on social media someone can watch a video that will then lead to something that will start to radicalize them. It’s really deadly. I know another writer who is currently making a film about this sort of thing. I am absolutely sure that in the next few years were go see some really, really good social media-themed cinema.

The Seed will premiere March 10, exclusively on Shudder.

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