Dark Seed

Feature film in development

Background

Dark Seed is a psychological drama, tracing the interconnections between three women and the dark gendered undercurrents which shape their lives and personalities.

Suburbia. Houses & flats connected by cars & trams; bordered by supermarkets, hospitals, indoor sports centres, shopping malls. Life seems well-paced, controlled, measured. But while one house may enjoy marital harmony, the house next door suffers domestic discord. Many a private nightmare is lived behind doors as the everyday battle of the sexes becomes confused, nasty and violent. Each rising sun illuminates little. Suburbia rings with a chorus of unresolved psychological tensions.

Wendy and Dimitri have just finalized their divorce. She is a quirky housewife attracted to mysticism; he is driven by scientific inquiry. Dimitri has conducted extensive research into hyper-premature deliveries and post-natal support systems. New high-tech humidicribs are in place at his hospital, but Dimitri needs a baby to effectively monitor his radical post-natal care programme. An expectant mother with a history of premature births is the ideal agent for Dimitri's dubious strategy. Separated from Dimitri, Wendy explores the mystical craft of the Alchemists who claimed to create life forms with chemical potions. Her ensuing arcane experiments take on an unexpected monstrousness. Wendy retains custody of their 9 year old son, Byron, and enjoys close friendship with two women: Pina and Gloria.

Pina is embroiled in an abusive relationship with her husband Ford who runs a low budget furniture warehouse. Just as affected by the mood swings of Ford is his teenage daughter, Tess. A quiet and solitary child who internalizes the domestic upheavals, she feels most comfortable with Wendy's young son, Byron. Gloria is a tough ex-biker chick who now runs a phone sex service. A torturous past leaves Gloria with a skeptical view of life, but in Wendy's esoteric outlook she finds a kindred independent spirit. Gloria is seriously affected by a vicious rape, which leaves her with a dramatically skewed perspective on sexual relationships.

Credits

Writer/director/producer - Philip Brophy
Score & sound design - Philip Brophy
Script & development with actors' workshop reading - Film Victoria, Melbourne; Screen Producers Association of Australia

Director's Statement

I have long been fascinated by horror in its many guises. This interest has led me to perceive a tradition where aberrant traits within men (not exclusively, but mostly so) have been characterized as monstrous qualities. In some way, I see the recurring image of the beautiful maiden cowering under the repulsive, lusting monster as a retainer of 'the battle between the sexes'. Inspired by Gothic folklore, Dark Seed finds uncanny connections between the psychoses of Baron Frankenstein, Count Dracula, Doctor Jekyll and (respectively) the IVF doctors, unconvicted rapists and domestic abusers of today. The world portrayed in Dark Seed is not a simple view on life as it sits in the present; it is a view of how the present sprouts forth tangled from the dark seeds of the past.

In this present, a monster isn't as caricatured as Freddy Kruger or Hannibal Lector. Quite the reverse. The monsters of Dark Seed are simply men. Dimitri - a driven man on quest for scientific discovery; Jason - that not-bad bloke living in the one-bedroom flat next to you; and Ford - your basic small-business family man. The focus of Dark Seed is on the consequences of these men's actions and the effects they have on those women immediate to them: Dimitri's ex-wife Wendy who has rejected science in favour of mysticism; Wendy's friend Gloria who is raped by Jason; and Ford's battered wife Pina and estranged teenage daughter Tess.

I wouldn't posit the view of Dark Seed as bleak or pessimistic. The story allows chance, fate and revenge to redirect the ugly energy released by the characters' repression and rage. I am positive about the resilience of the characters - and people in similar situations - to survive and get on with their lives. And despite the cross-threading of these characters who traverse the confused ground of its contemporary world, Dark Seed contains an implicit message: horror movies might be dead - but monsters are still alive.

Technical

Thematic Breakdown

Frankenstein

Baron Frankenstein (creator of life) > Dimitri (doctor with IV experiments)
Frankenstein's 'monster' (the consequences of being transformed by a monstrous figure)

Wendy:
1. Wendy becomes an individual; 2. Wendy explores mysticism

Dracula

Count Dracula (drainer of life) > Jason (rapist)
Dracula's 'living dead' (the consequences of being infected by a monstrous figure)

Gloria:
1. Gloria creates an insular world via phone-sex; 2. Gloria embarks on a sex-revenge spree

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Mr. Hyde (divider of life) > Ford (domestic violence perpetrator)
Mr.Hyde's mistress (the consequences of being abused by a monstrous figure)

Pina:
1. Pina leads a double-life; 2. Pina loses touch with daughter Tess