The Seeding (2024) Movie Review – This arthouse horror movie will put you off a desert vacation

This arthouse horror movie will put you off a desert vacation

If movies have taught us anything about the great outdoors, it’s this: Nothing good comes from venturing into the desert!

In Wolf Creek, three backpackers ventured into the outback and were tortured by a sadistic psychopath. In 127 Hours, a mountain climber found himself stuck (quite literally) between a rock and a hard place. And in the Zac Efron survival movie Gold, a drifter became the victim of his own greed after discovering a hidden treasure. 

So, if you’re planning on a desert adventure anytime in the near future, perhaps because you want to ride through the sand on a camel like a holidaymaking Lawrence of Arabia, you might want to think again. We’re sorry if that offends any tourist board! 

Another case in point: The Seeding. 

The movie begins with a small child wandering through the desert while munching on a dismembered finger. If that’s not enough to make you rethink your desert vacation, you’re clearly more accommodating of unsavoury foods than we are!

Not long after this gruesome scene, a man named Wyndham Stone (Scott Haze) drives into the desert to photograph a solar eclipse. After snapping away with an actual camera (sorry smartphone fans), he meets a different kid wandering through the area alone. The boy has apparently lost his parents but from the wicked look on his face, we know he might not be telling the truth. 

After becoming separated from the boy and getting lost himself, Wyndham meets a woman named Alina (Kate Lyn Shiel) who lives in a shack at the bottom of a canyon. She’s not very talkative but she still appears friendly, unlike the pack of boys who are roaming freely around the desert.

Alina refers to these children as “strays,” and as Wyndham discovers, these are not kids looking for a possible saviour, as was the case for the orphaned youngsters at the heart of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Rather, they are a sadistic bunch who have no willingness to let Wyndham escape from the desert he has wandered into. 

Music video director Barnaby Clay’s second feature is not for the faint of heart. It’s full of sinister imagery and hallucinatory moments that add to the eerie atmosphere created by the movie’s nightmarish scenes of horror.

From the sight of howling teens on the top of a steep rockface gleefully watching Wyndham suffer down below, to a moment when the boys exact brutal retribution on one of their own, this is a movie that is full of unsettling moments designed to make audiences squirm. It brings to mind the environmental horrors of such movies as Long Weekend (nature turns on a careless tourist) while also exhibiting the psychological bleakness of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other such terror tales featuring lead characters in hopeless situations. 

Haze, who is no stranger to wilderness living after his riveting (and disturbing) turn in the haunting Child of God, gives a brilliant performance in the movie as a man who mentally unravels as the chances of escape elude him. Shiel is very good too as Alina, a woman who is quiet and withdrawn one moment and manically unpredictable the next.

As the movie progresses, we learn that Alina has lived in the desert her entire life, bereft of the things many of us take for granted. We eventually learn of her connection to the boys – a plot point that might not surprise you – and the reason why she is so accepting of Wyndham when he stumbles into her home. There will be no spoilers here!

The Seeding isn’t particularly scary but it is foreboding, more so when cinematographer Robert Leitzell captures the tiny figure of Wyndham against the looming canyon walls that surround him. Leitzell effortlessly captures the feeling of hopelessness and isolation that Wyndham experiences and it’s his photography that elevates the tension that builds up throughout the film. The haunting music score plays a part here too. 

But as unnerving as the movie is, the storytelling is sometimes flawed. For one thing, the movie occasionally jumps ahead in time, which is frustrating as chunks of the story are left unexplored. The movie also hints at a wider mythology, something else that doesn’t get a lot of screen time. Of course, not everything has to be spelt out to us, as what is hidden can add to a movie’s mystery. But unfortunately for the viewer, the gaps in the narrative may make for a less-than-satisfying experience. 

These minor criticisms aside, I do think this movie is worth watching. Not everybody will like it – it’s sometimes more of an arthouse horror film than a full-blown exercise in terror  – but those who can withstand the sight of youngsters doing some very horrible things (eating a human finger isn’t the most offensive sight) should be enjoyably creeped out by this one. 


Read More: The Seeding Ending Explained 

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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