by James Simpson
Run Time – 93 minutes
Director – Doug Mallette
Starring – John Ferguson, Shane O’Brien, Jes Mercer
In the near future people will be unable to dream. To get around this a corporation has somehow developed a way to re-create dreams for the masses. They have made ‘Fantasites’: strange little worm-like parasites that are placed in the ear of the user. Once inside it dissolves and absorbed into the blood stream of the brain. This will make the user experience very realistic and amazing dreams that they have been missing for so long. The handyman of an apartment building, Charles (Ferguson), has been toying with the thought of using the dream-aid for sometime but can’t afford it. Then he encounters arrogant neighbour Reed (O’Brien): he is financially well off and can afford to use Fantasites a lot. This spurs Charles to save up and finally buy some yet the more he ‘takes’ them the more addicted he seems to them, as does Reed.
The latest Synapse release is one worth seeking out regardless of a, at the moment, US only release. Worm is a movie full with so many good points it rewards any efforts invested by the viewer.
The plot is a little strained in establishing how people come to be using Fantasites but other than that it is carried out well. The early scenes make it clear that these ‘designer’ parasites are highly sought after in a now dreamless-world. At times it feels like they are being sold as if they are some ‘must have’ accessory such as the latest smart phone or an iPad. People that have them couldn’t be happier while those without long to experience using the weird little worms.
This wanting something marketed as being essential is part of the plot later on, as Charles begins to eye up Reed’s ‘premium’ Fantasites. Charles can only afford the cheaper ‘economy’ worms that, while providing the user with dreams, doesn’t feel as real and won’t last as long in the memory once awake. Charles becomes more and more tempted by taking what Reed has, as well as his girlfriend June (Mercer), which shows that the shy handyman is becoming dependant on the parasites.
As the plot ploughs on the longing of June by Charles threatens to take over the film, although thankfully the story of the addiction to Fantasites does retake the spotlight eventually. The June/Charles sub-plot is good, both Ferguson and Mercer are talented actors, yet the fate of Charles as a user of worms is much more entertaining as the viewer follows him, and Reed come the end, as he will do anything to have another dream. The parallel to being a drug addict is obvious and it is this theme that seems to be the purpose of Charles’ fate.
An entertaining attempt at an original, modern tale of love and addiction plus the isolation and desperation that both these subjects can sometimes cause, Worm is a finely acted and thought-out film that is enthralling.
8 out of 10.
Available on region-free DVD from Synapse Films on August 12th.