If David Cronenberg has taught us one thing and one thing only, it is that you can do pretty much anything with special effects. He and John Carpenter hold a special place in my heart, one that truly appreciates the effort they put into body horror, and how difficult it is to make pieces of their horror look not only realistic, but absolutely terrifying. The Jeff Goldblum starring The Fly looks to take the body horror genre to new levels, with mesmerizingly horrifying special effects leaving their mark in one of, if not the scariest Cronenberg film to date.
Much of the horror comes from the visuals alone, a sickening display of what might happen if a man were to genetically splice with something as simple and small as a fly. The results are disgusting, as Jeff Goldblum’s Brainiac scientist Seth is soon to find out. After cracking the meaning and science behind teleportation just so he can get himself on the pull with Geena Davis, The Fly provides the horrors that hide behind genetic mutation in the way Darkman simply turned into comic flavour. There’s nothing comedic about the horrors that are awaiting in this masterful horror piece though.
Goldblum as an actor is loved by all, yet the roles he receives the most love for are those where he plays cocky yet oddly charming characters, or films where he plays accidental antagonists. Jurassic Park and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou soon spring to mind in that regard. A heroic turned villainous leading role for him is exactly what his career needed, a break from typecasting that proves he can blend the meaning of hero and villain together in a twisted yet career best performance. Cronenberg is responsible for directing many actors to some of their highest peaks; he managed it with Peter Weller and Viggo Mortensen in Naked Lunch and Eastern Promises respectively. He makes the hat trick with this stunning performance from Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.
The supporting cast are just as good, managing to hold their own against the tour de force that is Goldblum’s sordidly disgusting creation. Geena Davis serves her emotional purposes well, she has an incredibly tough role alongside Goldblum, bringing the much-needed romantic angle to what is essentially a classic plotline of what may happen when a monster falls in love. The Fly takes it to gruesome new heights though, managing to make its love story a living nightmare for anyone bold enough to sit through the entire film. Goldblum and Davis have a great deal of chemistry with one another, their early scenes together are essential at selling the movies message and tones. They’re sporadically difficult to work with, a few of their scenes rely more on the camerawork and stunning displays of ingenuity of Cronenberg, whilst others hold their own on their impeccable chemistry alone.
Proof that not all romantic pieces of film have happy endings, The Fly is a gruesome approach to a classically happy ending, one that can be touched upon in films like The Little Shop of Horrors. None come close to how great the Cronenberg body horror The Fly is though, a masterpiece in its editing and special effects design. Amazing on a level that makes it scarier than many of the modern horror iterations released to this very day. I’m not scared by many films, but The Fly truly manages to send some feverishly cold chills down my spine.