Available now on Amazon Video
Suspense movies made without a budget are always a promising idea, with a lack of sets and locations they are forced to use other methods to tell a story and get a lot of the strongest elements down on paper. However there is a certain amount of mystery that has to be generated in a plot like this, and unfortunately Flytrap opens with a narration from the main character which tells us everything. He’s met some space aliens and lived to tell us about it. So when we are introduced to his predicament in the next few scenes there’s little in terms of intrigue. The rest of the story is told with a similar lack of imagination.
English Astronomy teacher Jimmy (Jeremy Crutchley) arrives in L.A. to work at a university only to find that his car breaks down on route. Conveniently this one street in suburbia also has no phone signal, and he’s forced to ask for help at the house he stopped right in front of. The writing is already pretty lazy here and it doesn’t get much better. However we do get one of the funnier scenes as he’s greeted by Mary Ann (Ina-Alice Kopp) who starts pouring him wine for some reason instead of letting him make a call. Her demeanour is pretty weird to say the least. Despite claiming she doesn’t drink she takes a sip from Jimmy’s glass only to have a coughing fit. It’s strange and awkward, and the tone here is probably the only example of humour in the film. Their exchange of ‘you’re an alien? Me too’ when asking about his accent is a bit too on the nose but it sort or works, as does the dialogue about Venus being a place that must be in Texas somewhere.
Of course this is all part of the titular trap, and soon Mary Ann starts to behave even more robotically, asking Jimmy all about reproduction. It seems to be her only hobby. Other characters, all named after those in Gilligan’s Island make brief appearances, and soon enough Jimmy is a prisoner in their house. Of course this is where we spend most of the story. For a tale of kidnap however it sort of lacks any real tension building or drama. I was reminded of 10 Cloverfield Lane which did this sort of scenario with far more finesse. Escape attempts are brief and developments in the situation don’t really escalate it to a point that is interesting. Despite the introduction of an unseen character in the room next to Jimmy’s and later the use of electric collars to control him, he doesn’t really have any realisations about the quandary he’s in. There are no Misery style trips into other rooms to find out about his captors, and we don’t really seem much of their motives.
While it’s clear that Gilligan, Mary Ann and the Skipper are all trying to bring about the end of humanity, it would be nice to see how and why. Considering they’re all fish out of water characters they don’t act that strangely or do anything particularly sinister. They just want Jimmy to eat their terrible cooking so he can get back to the reproduction. It would have been more effective if his suspicions that this is a religious cult of some kind were played on more, only to have a later reveal about the true nature of things. It could have really fit with the moments in which he starts to feel sympathetic to Mary Ann, and boosted the effect of moments where she starts to feel like escaping. Their gawky attempts at dancing and acting like a normal couple are cute, but it’s too fleeting.
Like a lot of the elements here there’s not enough focus. Why not use his expertise in astronomy instead of it being a footnote that leads to nothing? There is a conclusion of sorts but it’s all so bland and uninspired. In the end we learn nothing that the first voice over didn’t tell us already. There are no big twists or surprises, no secrets in the house or discoveries about the other residents. Ultimately things are just too dull to really get invested in, and it’s not creepy enough to build any sort of atmosphere. There are better examples of claustrophobic situations behind normal looking front doors out there. With more twisted comedy or a bigger push towards the surreal it might have maintained a sense of personality at least, but it’s just too cold and empty much like the antagonists themselves.