Amy (Pamela Gidley, Cherry 2000, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me) has just stolen fifty thousand dollars from her ex-boyfriend Uri and needs to hole up for a while, so she heads to a secluded cabin. Unfortunately there’s a bunch of green goo around, which spawns lizards that are “evolving into a more efficient predator.” They have teeth, spit poison, grow gills, and quickly become immune to pesticides. Amy teams up with Marshall, a biologist investigating the disappearance of wildlife in the area. When a blizzard and a lizard-chewed car strand them in the cabin, their only hope is a shotgun and their wits.
I first watched Aberration as a teenager with my sister Leslie; our plan was to review every horror movie from the (now defunct) Hollywood Video. We didn’t make it past the A’s, probably because we watched stuff like Aberration.
At that time, I hated the movie, and I’m still not crazy about it. The characters are often annoying, the lizards are painfully unrealistic, and it feels much longer than its 92-minute running time.
It starts out slow, and though the action eventually picks up, I was still bored and didn’t really care if the characters made it or not. In addition, there’s a lot of reveling in the blood of dead animals, mostly the creatures, but there are also dog and cat corpses. In addition, for the last twenty minutes or so, Marshall starts manically shooting his gun and spouting one-liners. They’re not even particularly good ones, for example when the lizards kill shopkeeper Mrs. Miller: “She…was a nice…lady!”
To be fair, I didn’t hate it as much this time. There’s even a brief period in the movie when I enjoyed it: Amy and Marshall work together to find and kill the lizards in her cabin (contrasting with the rest of the movie—you’d be surprised at how much screen time is spent on them getting into a car, driving a ways away, discovering lizards have damaged the car, then having to walk. You‘d think after the first time it happens, they‘d check under the hood).
While Aberration owes a lot to action movies (particularly since its budget seems to be spent entirely on explosions and fires), and those films tend to focus on a powerful male and his arm candy, Amy and Marshall are equals. They’re both clever and resourceful, and while he’s the scientist, she’s far better with a gun. (Until the aforementioned last segment, when Amy is unconscious and Marshall becomes Rambo.) While I don’t always like Amy and Marshall, I appreciate that they don’t bemoan their situation—they crack jokes and take care of business. And unlike typical horror movie heroines, Amy doesn’t cry once; she’s tough, assertive, and though she has a short hissy fit, it’s angry rather than whiny. And finally, it’s a pretty clever premise; the lizards aren’t scary, but they’re menacing because they’re hard to catch.
If you’re in the mood for watching critters get blowed up and lots of purty fires, this one’s for you.