In Growth, female protagonist Jamie (Mircea Monroe; Black Waters of Echo’s Pond) inherits a valuable estate on a remote island. Along with a small cleaning crew made up of BFF, Boyfriend, Stepbrother, etc., she cruises out to her new property to give the place a once-over. Problem is, the island has been home to deranged parasite experiments since the ‘80s.
So, here’s my primary hang-up with Growth. The convoluted plotting introduces maybe a half dozen possible villains in the first 40 minutes:
A slimy, wormy parasite that alters human DNA.
Folks that might carry that parasite.
The murderous doctors that developed the parasite.
A chanting religious cult that marches ominous funeral processions through the woods.
And a looming stalker that wears a hooded raincoat possibly purchased from the I Know What You Did Last Summer outlet store.
And all of these dudes are on the island. As far as bad guys go, it’s seriously over-crowded around here. So when Jamie scrapes some steam off her bathroom mirror at the half-way point of the flick, you have no idea who might suddenly appear behind her: a blood-sucking bug, a parasite-crazed human, a touchy-feely priest, the Candyman, it honestly could be any of the seemingly billions of villains the movie postulates. The plot juggles so many different antagonists, any possible suspense is completely drained away.
And it‘s not only villains: Growth is also packed with its share of melodramatic subplots. For one, Jamie’s best friend is desperate to ride the bone of Jamie‘s stepbrother, a flirtatious forest affair that hacks away a good chunk of screen time. A fair amount of plot is also devoted to the progression of the parasite, which initially makes you sick, then heightens your senses, and then makes you want to bang any chaunch in your personal radius, right before it turns you all evil and shit.
And then there’s the baby. This is no normal baby, this is a horror movie baby. You know, one of those babies that is introduced in the first five minutes of the movie, and then completely forgotten for the next hour-plus until the dramatic crux point of the climax when the baby is finally rediscovered as the heroine faces down the main baddie. Oh no, I’ve got to protect the baby! Yeah, so who’s been watching/feeding this baby for the past two fucking days? At least the Hills Have Eyes remake had some occasional background baby squalling.
When watching Growth, all I could think about were movies like Shivers, Splinter, Slither, or Night of the Creeps, movies that have done this same shit before, only SO much better. The direction and acting were surprisingly decent across the board (along with a totally cool third-act fight scene that briefly cranks up the action), but the lame, overstuffed plotting grinds all the fun out it.