Set in an alternative near future the film opens explaining that the human race has stopped dreaming. If I followed the faux news snippets correctly, I understand that human’s voluntarily did this to stem the egotistic, creative and ultimately violent ideas put into their heads from their own thoughts and dreams. Without dreams no wars occur and violence has all but been irradiated from society. It is then, with some relief that a new fad ‘drug’ called Fanticites – a worm whose excretions have a psychotropic effect on the brain – enable humans to experience and live out these fantasies in a comatose state and having the satisfaction of having done it, without actually doing it.
Of course, everything comes at a price, and ultimately whist the drug was touted as safe with no-known side effects, it ultimately turns you into a brainless addict.
Whilst the movie focusses somewhat blatantly on the negative impacts of drugs – with all the artistic subtly of a police drug awareness course! The film crafts an enjoyable and satisfying story about a lad who is your standard social leper and his desperate reliance on the durg to help him become someone. We follow his plight as he struggles to fit in with the ‘in crowd’ and get the girl of his fantasies. The films plot also does well to explore other elements such as the role of advertisement and its impact on the young and impressionable, and flirts with other concepts such as corporate corruption and peer pressures. Don’t expect anything akin to ‘The Stuff’ in terms of development, but faux news reports and amusing advertisements give this film’s concept more depth than its budget might indicated.
The story moves forward with reasonable pace, and aside from a few awkward scenes which could have been edited to be snappier, the film held my interest right up to the rather tense climax. The acting is good throughout, with average stereotypes being portrayed with conviction. I wouldn’t say I gelled particularly with any of the characters, including the overly ‘wet’ lead character whose sympathy vote puts him as the guy to root for, but no body overtly offended me either so I was cool with that. The story develops in such a way that rather than thinking about where the film is going, you just sit back and enjoy the linear story play out. In terms of the story, it doesn’t stray outside of what you would expect, namely people take drugs -> people become addicted to drugs -> drugs get banned -> addicts turn criminals, loose control and it ruins their lives, but it did the job.
There are some entertaining scenes, aside from the fake adverts I have already spoken about. The dream sequences too are entertaining. I always enjoy watching character break their stereotypes in the realms of virtual reality. The violence, whilst limited, was a welcome departure to the drama and conversations which dominates much of the run time. The worm too, a bloody mollusc which lives in your ear is pretty disgusting, although far tamer than some of the more recent body horror DVD outputs of late.
Overall, ‘Worm’ is most definitely one of those titles which is released at the right time. Amidst some outstanding, but saturating Halloween jump-fests this title stands out as being both refreshing, but nostalgic at the same time. It does have a slight hint of Cronenberg about it also which definitely doesn’t do it any harm. It’s not perfect by any stretch, and it’s also not going to be to everybody’s taste – hence the rating from 4 stars to 3.5, but its definitely worth your time if you are sold on the concept.