Though formulaic at its core, POLYMORPH is a snappy science fiction thriller that represents regional genre filmmaker J.R. Bookwalter's best work to date.
While investigating a meteor crash in the woods, Dr. Lester Clark (Pete Jacelone) and security guard Womeldorf (Michael L. Raso) are shot dead by Tarper (Sasha Graham), who has been guarding a drug stash in a nearby cabin. An organism from the meteor infects Tarper, and her body is discovered in
the cabin by Clark's students Bill (Joseph A. Daw) and Ted (James L. Edwards), Bill's girlfriend Alice (Jennifer Huss), and Ted's blind date Donna (Ariauna Albright). Tarper's cohorts Carlos (Tom Hoover), Regine (Pam Zitelli), and Franco (Leo Anastasio) show up, and after a standoff, the youths
lock them in a room and flee.
Tarper revives and frees her partners, but soon proves to be possessed by an alien. Once Tarper is killed for good, the creature takes over the body of Alice, who has been shot by Regine. After Bill and Franco also fall victim, Ted, Donna, and Carlos realize they must join forces. The three are
eventually able to destroy the alien, but not before Ted is mortally wounded. Carlos and Donna drive off together, but Carlos, who wants no witnesses to his criminal activities, shoots Donna dead.
After taking a significant step up with THE SANDMAN, Bookwalter has crafted one of the best of the new breed of shot-on-video genre movies. He maximizes his low budget by keeping the locations simple and the cast small, compensating with a fast pace and creative camerawork. The plot may be
strictly comic-book, but Bookwalter acknowledges this with frequent comic-panel-styled subtitles that add to the fun. POLYMORPH is also the sharpest of his movies visually, with a film-like quality that avoids the murkiness of his previous work and some striking low-budget opticals to configure
the alien's possession of its victims.
Edwards' tongue-in-cheek script rarely slips over the line into outright parody or unintentional humor, and allows the characters (especially Albright's and his own, of course) a few nicely timed human moments in the midst of the action. While none of the characters are especially deep, the cast
is energetic down the line, and the unexpectedly downbeat ending gives the movie an extra touch of resonance. POLYMORPH may not have too much on its mind, but it puts many higher-budgeted projects to shame for pure entertainment value. (Graphic violence, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Though formulaic at its core, POLYMORPH is a snappy science fiction thriller that represents regional genre filmmaker J.R. Bookwalter's best work to date. While investigating a meteor crash in the woods, Dr. Lester Clark (Pete Jacelone) and security guard… (more)