As with a surprising number of the films that I review here at NoRealDanger, The Hybrid (aka: Scintilla, which is a way better title if you’re asking me) was completely unknown to me until Netflix told me that I’d likely rate it over 4 stars. That type of estimate intrigues me every time. How have I not heard of this before? Why does the Netflix algorithm think I’ll like it so much? Why do people constantly ask me if I’m really going to eat pizza for a second or third time today? And so on. Since it looked like, and the description made it sound like, a sci-fi horror film, I was even more intrigued. (big fan of that sub-genre) What could I do but check it out? No matter what your answer is – I checked it out. (i mean, i could almost literally do anything else. so, your answer was probably right)
A band of mercenaries is hired to infiltrate an old soviet bunker complex. They’re led by Powell, a sandwich enthusiast who was let out of some sort of torture prison to do the job. The rabbit warren-like bunkers hide a laboratory used for genetic experiments that would be frowned upon by the Russian (i am not sure if that’s right) citizenry as well as the world at large. Things quickly go from “Call of Duty: Black Ops” while they’re infiltrating the heavily fortified compound, to “Metal Gear Solid” when the they run afoul of some nasty customers dressed like Psycho Mantis. (if you’re unfamiliar, picture ’94 Marilyn Manson with a gas mask on. but these guys’ masks look buggier. yes, i know that’s not a word) When the team gets past the gas-masked threat, they discover a modern, high-tech lab run by a no-nonsense doc. She’s not terribly surprised to see them, or the woman who represents the shadowy company that hired our intrepid mercs. Turns out they were once colleagues. Their subjects are seemingly harmless human/??? hybrids with a very strange facial feature. (the vague language and question marks are my own) Problem is: “seemingly” harmless doesn’t necessarily mean “definitely” harmless.
I went into The Hybrid with a healthy skepticism. This is a low budget sci-fi horror film that either had no buzz or I simply missed the buzz. Director, Billy O’Brien, has flexed his sci-fi horror chops before with the killer cow story, Isolation (2005). In that film, DNA splicing leads to disastrous and deadly outcomes. And in The Hybrid, DNA splicing leads to disastrous and deadly outcomes. Perhaps O’Brien has a personal fear of GMOs? In any case, the film is effectively scary with its just-plausible-enough tale of science overstepping its boundaries. (a familiar tale) The simple costumes of the secret lab guards, with their insect like high altitude helmet masks (or whatever), elicit an immediate fear response. And the titular mostly-human “hybrids” have some weird features that drop the viewer right into teratophobia territory (look it up. i did). These (relatively) simple creature/costume designs are more effective than many larger budget films’ CG and practical effects. The dangers of the situation are cleverly compounded by the setting – isolated, claustrophobic underground tunnels surrounded by armed guards. Sure, some lines are less-than-perfectly delivered and the effects aren’t flawless, but The Hybrid delivers tension, intrigue, and interesting character development that is sure to please horror and sci-fi enthusiasts.
The Final Cut: The Hybrid is a taught sci-fi horror film that delivers a lot of bang for its low-budget buck. If you’re looking for fear, dread, and DNA spliced mayhem, you’ve come to the right place.