‘Would you like to reproduce now?’ is hardly the most romantic chat up line I have ever heard, but it does for English astronomy professor James Pond (Jeremy Crutchley). You see James was on his way from New York to take up a new post at UCLA when his hire car breaks down in a LA suburb. Fortunately it’s a nice middle class neighbourhood, so since he can’t get a cell phone signal either he goes and knocks on the nearest door.
Mary Anne (Ina-Alice Kopp) invites James in and offers him a drink before inviting him to join her upstairs; I mean where else would an attractive woman keep her telephone if not by the bed? She’s very direct, if a little odd, but what’s a guy to do when a beautiful single girl invites him into her bedroom? Later when James awakens he discovers that not only does Mary Anne’s telephone not work, but also that all of her housemates share names with characters from Gilligan’s Island, and what’s more they are determined that James isn’t leaving them anytime soon.
Now James isn’t convinced that he wants to spend the rest of his life as Mary Anne’s lust object no matter how pretty she is, however after a couple of botched escape attempts he wakes up to find himself fitted with a collar that electrocutes him every time he tries to leave the premises (bizarrely this technology is with us now, my neighbour paid an absolute fortune to have a similar device fitted to his pedigree cat). And on top of that the alien’s food is rubbish.
Yes James has just been imprisoned by the kind of human sperm harvesting to facilitate their evil world domination plans aliens and Pond’s only way out is to persuade Mary Anne to fall in love with him and encourage her to betray her alien pals to help him escape. Sure we have been here before by way of movies like Devil Girl from Mars (1954) Unearthly Stranger (1963) and both versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but Flytrap goes on to channel these concepts through Misery (1990) and perhaps more appropriately Clint Eastwood’s civil war boarding school drama The Beguiled (1971) and then just to spice things up a bit adds the merest hint of Rosemary’s Baby (1968).
Stephen David Brook’s Flytrap is no gorefest, there is hardly any violence or bloodshed in the film, but it is a nicely menacing little ensemble piece. Most of the action takes place within the confines of the house, the exterior seemingly normal in the bright LA sunshine, but dark and oppressive within, where the abiding sense of internal claustrophobia is handsomely reinforced by David R Hardberger’s atmospheric cinematography. Within the house, aside from Mary Anne, you are only introduced briefly to two of Pond’s captors, the suitably other worldly Gilligan and the Skipper, although as a Brit myself, I’m not convinced that Pond would necessarily have picked up on those Gilligan’s Island references.
But Flytrap is more than just a creepy Sci-Fi shocker, it’s also an intelligently written comedy of English/American manners. Crutchley’s performance as the English space scientist is nicely understated as someone who is an alien in the USA, but fails to recognise the extra terrestrial alien in the apparently socially inept American woman who he ends up falling in love with. Thankfully Pond’s Englishness is not expressed in that bumbling Hugh Grant kind of way, but rather as a polite bemusement that gives way initially to frustration before turning into fear and desperation as the story progresses. Along for the ride there are enough references to other movies to keep the most ardent cinephile happy, including the use of a simple everyday household object to frustrate the evil alien plan, just as in the best low budget vintage sci-fi of the 1950s and 1960s
A nicely acted and atmospheric ensemble piece.