“I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake.”
I’d forgotten just how gross this movie is. And how sad. David Cronenberg’s The Fly is unlike many other horror films in that it’s not about scares, or a relentless pace, or creepy sights/sounds that we may not understand. The Fly doesn’t jump out of corners, it’s a fairly slow burn, and it keeps no secrets from its audience. The film is the tale of a scientist who creates a teleporter, steps into it, and accidentally travels with a fly in his teleportation pod, thus combining their DNA structures. It’s a film about disease, a slow and ugly disease for which there is no cure, as Dr. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) becomes something more (and less) than human. And like a story about some other death sentence disease, Brundle’s fly-evolution has him going through stages, both physically and mentally. At first he’s gifted with great strength, then he becomes ugly and easily agitated, then he becomes horribly deformed and crippled, before finally becoming a powerful beast half-way between insect and man. He alternates from denial to acceptance, but (interestingly) rarely horror at what he is becoming. And all the while, his friend and lover Ronnie (Geena Davis) tries to comfort him and stay by his side. It’s not always easy and sometimes she must reason that it’s the disease talking, not her boyfriend. And by the end, she fears what their interactions might have done to her own body.
The makeup effects work is fantastic, turning Goldblum into a hideous monstrosity. If made today, CGI would undoubtedly be the effects method of choice, and I’m not sure that would improve any of what we got in the 30 year old film.
I also appreciate that the film has no extra fat on the edges. There are some fairly fascinating deleted scenes on the Blu-ray but it was wise to cut them as they didn’t add much. The Fly has three central characters, a couple minor rolls, and the rest are just extras. It’s streamlined, efficient horror storytelling.
David Cronenberg’s The Fly is a horror masterpiece. It’s also really gross. Like seriously, vomit drop gross. I don’t rewatch it often but whenever I do I am struck by the fact that it’s almost a perfect film.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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