The Fly (1986)

fly_posterI did hear about this film many years ago, but I had never seen it until very recently. Needless to say it’s quite unlike any sci-fi horror film I had seen so far, with its unique premise (I say this and the very story had been filmed before in 1958) and its refreshingly visceral horror thrills.

The premise of the film revolves around Seth Brundle, an eccentric scientist working on a set of “telepods”, instant transportation devices which he claims will change the world forever. Documenting this is Veronica Quaife, a science reporter who eventually gets attached to her subject at her peril. Brundle eventually thinks that he’s perfected his experiment, but begins to display signs that he has transformed into a completely different person, and finds out that his last experiment went disastrously wrong.

I honestly thought that it was going to be the horror film that almost immediately started with Jeff Goldblum’s character becoming the fly, but that would have been much too predictable. Instead, the film seems to have taken the path of slowly establishing mood and depth of character, before eventually taking a creepy turn as the eccentric scientist slowly morphs into a savage, grotesque creature. I think this was a well-written film, with its slow, suspenseful pacing building up to a viscerally climactic end.

I think Jeff Goldblum was a good fit for the lead role, even though at times he sounded a bit robotic. His performance was a fine mix of sorts, not too much like the cackling mad scientist, not too much like a bumbling “nutty professor” type. In a way, he’s his own breed of character here. Geena Davis also made for a good supporting character, though it sometimes seems as if she ought to be the main protagonist (taking on the role more heavily towards the end).

Much like any other film made by David Cronenberg, The Fly is very much a visual film, and thus much of its success depended on how it presented itself. On the surface it looks like it would have fitted just as well on television as it did on the silver screen (by which I mean it’d look good on both). However, the real cherry on the sundae would have to be the film’s wildly liberal use of its creative special and make-up effects. Given the film’s gore horror approach (though I must say the film is rather conservative on the gore), the film is replete with such special effects, and it seems to work in the film’s favour. Of course, who could forget how well the make-up was implemented in creating the fly creature? If you’ve seen the film, I don’t think you will.

All in all, The Fly was a very good example of sci-fi horror done right. I’ll admit that it’s not without its flaws, and that there are certainly better films in the same genre, but because of its inventiveness, originality, and good writing, I think there’s a special place for this sadly underrated film.

  • Score: 84%
  • Grade: B
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