Image Entertainment // 2007 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 4th, 2008
Terror takes root.
A military experiment gone horribly awry starts indiscriminately killing people. Big shocker.
When an Army unit is sent to secure and close down a remote base, they inadvertently release an organism (or, yes, organizm) that is made up of a diabolical cocktail of bastardized plant and animal cells, grows at an astonishing rate, and embeds its gruesome tendrils into its prey. With the entire world at risk of being consumed by this unstoppable force, it falls to just two people to find a way to stop it: Carrie (Erica Leerhsen), an attractive military scientist, and a mysterious man named Frank (Johnathon Schaech) who's past is somehow tied to the organism's genesis.
This is a solid little creature feature, flush, sure, with the typical conventions of the genre, but what Organizm lacks in originality, it makes up for in execution. Unstoppable mysterious creature of death and destruction? Check. The fact that it originated as a black-ops bioweapons project from the Army? You betcha! A situation that quickly escalates out of control, beyond the capability of the military's conventional warfare, granting our protagonists the unique opportunity to come up with a plot device that they -- and only they -- have the ability to unleash, opposed by authorities reluctant to believe them until it's almost too late? @#$% yeah!
What the folks behind Organizm bring to these clichés is interesting, so I really didn't mind.
Start with the creature, arguably the most important element in a beast-run-amok picture. Here, it's a weed-like baddie; a rapidly growing root structure that spreads underground and above ground, squeezing the life out of any animal it comes across, crushing tanks, ripping up bowling alleys and sodomizing humans. It's a bastard, no doubt, but the "organism" taps into that primal blob-like fear of an invulnerable being that overtakes its victims and no matter how hard they try to break loose, they end up in a lethal, full-body slime tuxedo. As an added bonus, this moderately-budgeted film sports some passable CGI, which renders the organism well. Writer/director Richard Jeffries uses some well thought out sequences -- darker scenes, shots viewed through infrared -- to cover for any of the iffy visual effects. So gold star for the effort.
For such an imposing adversary, the full scale of the military is unleashed and, again, this is a genre staple that could have been half-assed, but wasn't. It might be the same couple of Humvees we see over and over, it sure feels like a detachment larger than a Boy Scout troop was dispatched to combat this thing. Sustained automatic gunfire, explosions, hapless troops getting wasted, missile strikes -- it seems like a miniature war.
The fast start eventually slows down toward the end, as our heroes take the fight to the creature. The scenery is cool, reminiscent of a venue you'd find in Aliens, and the practical gore effects are the finest in the film, but the pacing is drawn out to generate suspense. A small complaint, but noticeable.
Still, Organizm receives a recommendation. Scope it out if you're jonesing for a creature fix.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen looks great, though something was happening up top in the viewing window; the disc's processing data -- thin white lines of varying lengths -- was visible. Weird. A crisp 5.1 Dolby Digital mix delivers the audio goods and a commentary track with Richard Jeffries, Johnathon Schaech, and Erica Leerhsen is the lone extra.
After you "weed" out the horror poseurs, you'll "root" for this movie. "Plant" yourself on the couch and enjoy.
Not guilty. Pass the plant food.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R