The Mutation

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Mutation
"It’s an unrepentant B-movie but it’s fun to watch, and sometimes that’s all a film needs."

What is it about freelance scientists and growing animals to giant size? Cinema has been warning about it since the Fifties but no lessons seems to have been learned. This low budget gem from writer/director Scott Jeffrey is very much in that Fifties style. It’s a cautionary tale exploring the consequences of genetic meddling in a suburban basement, and though its monster may look like a bit of old carpet, the locals will find themselves struggling to take it down.

Jeffrey knows his stuff. His previous work has featured bats, spiders, sharks and dragons. In a production capacity he has recently start branching out into dinosaurs, including in the recent Hatched. These films are not always successful – when he’s working on one a month, one wouldn’t expect it – yet somehow the pieces have come together pretty well in this case. It’s an unrepentant B-movie but it’s fun to watch, and sometimes that’s all a film needs.

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Ricardo Freitras plays Allen, consultant zoologist to the local police force, who is brought in to take a look at the scene of a scientist’s murder. “This murder wasn’t committed by a human,” he’s told, and indeed, examination of the mangled body reveals traces of what seems to be rodent hair. Whilst it’s being analysed, Allen, who is going through a difficult divorce and has nothing better to do, sits in on the police interview of the dead man’s wife, Linda (Amanda-Jade Tyler), who soon starts hitting on him. Most people would immediately identify this as a no-go situation, but if Allen was bright, he wouldn’t be in this sort of film.

There’s a surprising amount of plot for a film of this sort. The police continue their investigation whilst Allen increasingly goes out on his own, taking risks, and the monster rampages around the town, sneakily at first, then rather more boldly. Its victims – including the young women who never normally get any character – all put up a fight, which gives the film more energy and makes the rat seem more impressive in spite of how ridiculous it looks. There’s a great rampage scene with multiple characters in a small space and those who interact directly with the rat all have distinguishable personality.

Nobody is going to win acting awards for their work in this, but there are only a few really ropey moments, and the characters come across well enough. Similarly, the very basic sets don’t inhibit the story. The action is well paced with an ending that really delivers for creature feature fans. It’s a cheap, trashy, throwaway film, but enough attention has been paid to give it personality, and if you go in with suitably low expectations then you’ll have a good time.

Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2021
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The Mutation packshot
A giant rat escapes from a scientist's laboratory and wreaks havoc on the local population.

Director: Scott Jeffrey

Writer: Scott Jeffrey

Starring: Ricardo Freitas, Amanda-Jade Tyler, Derek Nelson, Jamie Robertson, Megan Purvis

Year: 2021

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: UK

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Streaming on: On Demand, Digital


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