It's 1984 and studies are underway that are designed to help President Ronald Ragen and his war on drugs. One of the experiments is the creation of a fast growing and combative mold that could wipe out entire crops in days. However, Big Brother has other ideas for this mold and everyone at the lab unwillingly become test subjects as they have the deadly mold unleashed upon them.
I know anybody who reads my gibberish nonsense already knows how I feel about modern horror and nu-ploitation movies but I feel the need to reiterate. For some reason, it seems, that filmmakers hit a point where they decided that there is no need for creativity and no need to put an honest effort into their movie. These days it seems that almost all movies want to be a throwback to something; whether it be certain movies in particular or an entire "genre" like grindhouse movies. A majority of them lack any sort of identity of their own thus making it feel pointless to watch their movie -- Why do I want to watch movie that is nothing but a composition of movies that I saw decades ago? Or they decide that they need to take the cheesy charm that some of them had, cranked it up to eleven, and make them unbearably stupid. As Andrew Allan put it, "There so focused on homages that they've become homogenized."
Then there are those that can blend in the right amount of influences, style, or homages from past movies and "Mold!" is one of those movies. There wasn't much in terms of available media at the time I requested the screener -- few FX clips on YouTube and some images here and there. Some folks recommended it and I was digging on the idea of killer mold, so I figured I would give it a shot and I'm glad I did. "Mold!" is a movie where science and nature collide in a fury blend of 80's camp with 50's cheese that's topped off with low-budget splatter.
Set in 1984 during Reagan's War on Drugs movement there is a secret government funded project underway to help the US fight this terror that's slowly corrupting our youth and destroying our society. The project: fast growing and combative mold. With Big Brother watching every step of the way a plan is underway to have the scientists involved in the project as well as military officers, government officials, and the members of the press become unknowing and unwilling test subjects for this deadly mold. Laced with some of the nerdiest references and 80's paranoia, Neil Meschino puts the mold back into cheese with a very entertaining science-runs-amok horror movie debut.
"Where we're going, we don't need Rhodes."
So bad it hurts, yet it hurts so good. In an interview director and co-writer Neil Meschino had this to say about his movie: "...there is only one thing that signifies the 80’s for me…FUN. Those movies were a good time... So I realized I already had the answer to my problem right there in the script. Just have fun. Isn’t that what we watch movies for anyway? To be entertained?" And that's what "Mold!" is -- fun. It's a very entertaining script that's fun but doesn't take things to far and makes itself into something that is completely stupid like "Isle of the Damned" or "The Taint". It's not wrapped up self-indulgent homages or places style over substance in order to appear hip and trendy like "Hobo with a Shotgun". Yes, "Mold!" has homages and references, and yes, it has fun with it's concept but it works because it mixes the silly with the serious. While the killer mold poses as a real threat to these characters, their response to the situation leads to some over-the-top schlocky results. A moldy-zombie soldier? Yes, please. A character that liquefies from the inside out? Don't mind if I do. Melting eyes, exploding hearts, handsome mustaches, green gore, automatic weapons, a sexy scientist in her underwear, awesome one-liners? Yes, oh god yes!
I don't mean to make it sound like some whacky movie like "George's Intervention" as I wouldn't consider "Mold!" to be a comedy or at least not in the strictest of terms. There is humor to be found in the movie and it wants you to laugh and cheer at some of the dialogue and the gags but overall the comedic tone is more laid back in a sense. In a comedy duo "Mold!" would be more of the straight-man than the comic -- they still make you laugh but not by being ridiculous. The movie in general finds that oh so tricky middle ground that most filmmakers are unable to find. Neil was looking to make a fun movie and I think he accomplished that goal seamlessly and while I know he was going for more of a 80's vibe I think it managed to recreate the feel of those wonderful 50's sci-fi films where science and/or nature is on a rampage. That's one of the things that makes the movie stand out in a way; it recreates a style and attitude without intentionally doing so and it does it well. When I watched "Mold!" for the first time all I could do was see myself going to the movies back in the day where the theaters had gimmicks to go with the movies. In the case of Neil's movie, I could see myself buying a tub of green colored popcorn, a drink that is suppose to be a serum that helps make you immune to the mold, or even having some guy running through the theater looking like a mold-zombie. It's the type of movie where the advertisement uses so many mold related puns that it makes you come up with your own when you finally watch the movie, like:
"Mold! is SPORE-tacular!"
Well, that's all I got...but I'm a bad example of coming up with clever puns since it's a miracle if I'm able form coherent thoughts or complete sentences. Anyway -- yes, the movie is fun (funny too) and yes, the movie is entertaining but it's also very well made. I don't know the exact budget details (You don't ask a woman what her weight is and you don't ask a director what their budget is.) but it's an obvious low-to-no budget affair but it's hidden well by keeping the movie to a single location, modern technology for the time, impressive FX, and creative camera work. There are a few additional locations that are very minor, like a hallway and second room, but most of the movie occurs in the staff's break room. When locations are so limited the movie can go either way -- it can be utterly boring or very effective. Thankfully "Mold!" is the latter and even though it never really produces that sort of claustrophobic terror that comes with the territory. It works on a different level because of the character interactions, the dialogue, and overall there was enough going on that it keeps things interesting. And by going on I mean people exploding into green goo, of course.
I've seen some people comment on the acting and honestly with a movie like "Mold!" I have a hard time looking at something like acting objectively. Is it good acting, good-bad acting, or just bad acting? I don't know. The entire movie invokes a sense of camp and cheese so when something is "bad" you can never tell if it's being done purposeful or accidental because it all blends together and brings out the charm and the pizzazz of "Mold!" I guess that in itself can be a compliment to a movie when you can no longer tell nor do you care and are willing to sit back and take it all in. Like I said I have a hard time looking at it objectively but I'm also a bit biased since Edward X. Young is in the cast. That man won me over from the first time I saw him in "The Green Monster" and he continues to be one of the most memorable modern day actors in independent films and b-movies. He always manages to make his characters stand out in a movie because he's so entertaining to watch, and while I think he stole the show that certainly is not meant to sell anyone else in the cast short.
I have nothing else to say other than I loved "Mold!" it's one of those few movies that I received as a screener and then immediately rewatched the movie for the sole purpose of enjoyment rather than for critiquing purposes. I mainly focused on the fact that the movie is fun and entertaining because that is the most important thing you need to know about the movie. That and it's a great concept -- How many movies are out there that has mold as the villain and is actually good both on a technical and entertainment level? Neil and his crew managed to pull it all together to make an impressive low-budget horror and sci-fi combination that puts the same amount of quality into each aspect of the movie -- cinematography, lighting, score, writing, gags, etc. -- with some kick-ass gore FX to boot. I honestly don't think I've done the movie any justice so I will simply say, check this movie out. Also the screen caps do not do the movie any justice either so be sure to check out the trailer as well.