Progeny Review

Craig Barton (Arnold Vosloo) has a well-paid job as an ER surgeon. He's married to Sherry (Jillian McWhirter) and they're hoping to start a family. One night, as they make love, they see a bright blue light...and two hours have passed. Under hypnosis, Sherry "remembers" being taken up into an alien spacecraft and being examined by the extraterrestrials. Soon after, Sherry finds she's pregnant, but Craig wonders if the child is really his...

Brian Yuzna is a prolific director and producer who works mostly in the how-budget end of the horror genre, whose films make up in ideas and narrative drive what they may lack in A-picture polish. His best work is Society; Progeny isn't as original or as subversive as that film, but it's a worthwhile hour and a half for genre aficionados. A committed leading performance from Arnold Vosloo is backed up by solid work from a strong supporting cast. As Sherry, Jillian McWhirter has less to do than be not quite in her right mind for half the running time. Yuzna shows some restraint in that his aliens are only briefly shown (designs by Yuzna's regular special effects man Screaming Mad George). He lays off the gore until the last twenty minute or so, though what is there is not for the squeamish. Unfortunately, Yuzna has less in the way of visual flair, and the photography has the overlit look of a TV movie.

The picture is a little soft, though some of that is down to the use of filters in the camerawork. The transfer is full-screen and open-matte from what is clearly intended for 1.85:1. The sound is Dolby Surround, which sounds pretty much monophonic throughout. As it is, it does its job, and I suspect elaborate sound mixing would be beyond this film's means. (Considering that the makers were aware that the majority of this film's audience would see this on video, and that many video owners still have mono equipment, perhaps a flashier soundtrack would seem an extravagance.) There are no subtitles. Twenty chapter stops is adequate for a film of this length, though the chapters get longer in the second half.

There are two extras, though neither of them is outstanding. The trailer, noticeably louder than the feature, includes clips from just about every key scene in the film, and even lifts the tagline from The Fly: "Be afraid – be very afraid". The "cast and crew interviews" consist of video footage of Yuzna, McWhirter and Vosloo being interviewed on set. Nothing very startling is revealed, and the three interviewers don't go beyond superficialities (McWhirter is asked "please describe your character" as if we'd sat through the film for nothing). This section is crying out for tight editing: at 31 minutes, incisive it is not.

There's no way I could describe Progeny as an unsung gem. It's a B movie through and through, and successful enough within its modest ambitions.

6 out of 10
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