The Seeding, written and directed by Barnaby Clay, takes audiences on a slow-burn journey into a desolate desert canyon where nightmares come to life. With minimal dialogue and a limited cast, this atmospheric horror flick thrives on subtlety and implications of evil rather than relying on jump scares or explicit gore. While it may not fully capitalize on its untapped potential, The Seeding offers an eerie exploration of relationship dynamics within a secluded and mysterious setting.
While out photographing a solar eclipse, Stone (played by Scott Haze of What Josiah Saw) stumbles upon a lost boy looking for his parents. After hours of walking away from his car and any sign of civilization, Stone too becomes lost and separated from the boy. Desperate for help and a place to rest, Stone is relieved when he finds a woman living off-the-grid in a tiny cottage home at the base of a canyon…but that relief is short lived.
“…a slow-burn journey into a desolate desert canyon where nightmares come to life. “
After an awkward night with the mysterious woman named Alina (played by Kate Lyn Sheil, who genre fans will no doubt recognize from You’re Next and She Dies Tomorrow) Stone discovers the ladder leading him down to her little hidden homestead has been removed, imprisoning him to this hidden cottage at the edge of the world. Over time, Stone and the mysterious woman become closer but as his patience wears thin and the hopeless of his situation sets in, he becomes increasingly suspicious of Alina‘s relationship to the boys preventing them from escaping their rocky jailhouse. Is she a prison too, or is this all just some bizarro, hellscape version of Peter Pan‘s Wendy & The Lost Boys?
Scott Haze delivers a commendable performance as Stone , the unsuspecting protagonist whose tranquil hike quickly spirals into a claustrophobicnightmare. Joined by the talented Kate Lyn Sheil as Alina, whose enigmatic presence adds an unsettling layer to the story, the film hinges on their chemistry and unspoken tensions. Despite the lack of dialogue, their interactions reveal a captivating blend of trust, suspicion, and desperation.
The true horror in The Seeding lies in the hidden depths of its narrative, lurking just beneath the surface. It leaves viewers questioning the motives of Alina and the chilling pack of sadistic boys who encircle the cottage day and night. Is she a victim of these boys as well? Is she somehow the ringleader of this deranged circus? Is she a perhaps a witch? The movie purposefully keeps these answers veiled, leaving room for interpretation and speculation.
The film’s metaphors are unabashedly on display, often spelled out rather than subtly woven into the fabric of the story. However, this open expression of themes doesn’t detract from the overall experience if slow-burn metaphoric horror is your jam. The chapters, marked by the phases of the moon, create a rhythmic structure that enhances the unsettling atmosphere. Alina‘s occasional bursts of otherworldly anger and the boys’ predatory behavior further deepen the sense of foreboding.
“…for fans of slow-burn horror and those who appreciate a thought-provoking experience…”
Although The Seeding suffers from repetitiveness and a lack of engagement at times, it excels in creating an immersive mood. The cinematography captures the haunting beauty of the desert landscape, while the unnerving sound design and score add to the sense of unease. As the characters’ trust wanes and tensions rise, the line between reality and nightmare blurs, keeping viewers unsure of what might happen next.
In the end, The Seeding falls short of reaching its full potential. While the film successfully builds a disquieting ambiance and explores the intricacies of human relationships, it left me yearning for a more fulfilling resolution. Nonetheless, for fans of slow-burn horror and those who appreciate a thought-provoking experience, The Seeding offers a glimpse into a world where evil dwells in the shadows, waiting to pounce on its unsuspecting victims.
Barnaby Clay’s The Seeding celebrated it’s World Premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. Click HERE to follow our continued coverage of the festival and let us know if you’re excited to experience The Seeding over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.
[#Tribeca2023 Review] The Hills Have Lies in Ethereal Desert Horror THE SEEDING
While the film successfully builds a disquieting ambiance and explores the intricacies of human relationships, it left me yearning for a more fulfilling resolution. Nonetheless, for fans of slow-burn horror and those who appreciate a thought-provoking experience, The Seeding offers a glimpse into a world where evil dwells in the shadows, waiting to pounce on its unsuspecting victims.