After the success of the original short director Doug Mallette turned the short into a full feature length film that was picked up by Synapse Films and released in 2014. This is why Synapse is one of the best companies out there. The fact that they saw the true brilliance of the film and gave it a shot is the reason why I will always continue to support and praise Synapse Films.
So what makes the film so special? Well, the simple fact that by reading the synopsis on the back of the box you would automatically make the connection that the film is going to be an extremely dark film about the issues of addiction. While the film does have its dark moments particularly in the last fourth of the film, the rest of the film plays out in a more lightly comedic style. It was extremely fresh to see this blend of comedy and horror done so well in a period of time where comedic horror films are usually complete and utter shit.
What is the story then and how do these aspects play out in the film? Well the film takes place in a futuristic world where for some reason people lose the ability to dream. We are never given an explanation on why this is the case. I had an issue with this fact at first, but after thinking about it more it does not really matter. The idea that these people who live in this world lost the ability to dream causes an extreme sense of depression in the characters because let's face it, there is nothing better in the world then to dream. It is at this moment that the fantastic commentary about consumerism comes into play. The idea that people can no longer dream anymore causes humans to make an artificial replacement. This artificial replacement soon becomes known as "Fantasites" and becomes the new hot item that everyone is after. "Fantasites" are worm- like creatures that when bought are placed inside the persons ear, the worm then releases something from their bodies that causes a chemical imbalance in the brain, this results in the person having a dream. This idea is already bad ass and awesome as it is, but what makes "Fantasites" so intriguing to the characters of the world is that the dreams that these "Fantasites" create only represent extreme bliss and happiness. "Fantasites" soon become an item that is in such high demand that people are flooding out in droves to participate in the new hottest trend. The fact that we see lines of people trying to get "Fantasites" instantly makes the annual event of Black Friday pop into my mind. It seems like on that one day a year people lose all respect as humans and will do whatever they have to do to get their hands on that one product. I think the scenes where we see people buying "Fantasites" for the first time really hammers this message across that humans are nothing but monsters. This is simply due to the fact that the moment people are trying to get that one hot item that makes them feel superior every moral lesson that they have learned up to that moment gets flushed away.
It is during these sequences are we introduced to our main character Charles (John Ferguson). Charles is a loner in life; he has no friends and still lives with his father who owns the apartment building where he rents out the rest of apartments to the remainder of the characters. You would think that because Charles is a loner that he would be a quiet and boring character, but actually the total opposite occurs. Charles is a funny and extremely likeable character whose only goal in life is to fit in the best that he can. Of course this is what leads Charles to buy "Fantasites" because he thinks if he participates in the fad that people will end up liking him. One person that he tries to charm is a renter of one of the apartments, this character goes by the name of Reed (Shane O' Brien). Reed starts off the film as being a huge douche bag towards Charles, mainly due to the fact that he views Charles as a lesser being because of his financial issues. As the film goes on Charles continues to nag Reed to "hang out" but ultimately fails. It is only when Charles goes to fix a broken light in Reed's apartment that we are introduced to Reed's wife June (Jes Mercer). June is the total opposite of Reed, she is a sweet and kind person who understood Charles loneliness and tries to create something that Charles has never had before; a friendship. This friendship ends up causing Reed to get jealous simply due to the fact that he thinks Charles wants to bang his wife. This of course is not the case for Charles who simply just wants a friend. We learn that June is an active user of "Fantasites", this leads to Charles and June having dream sessions where they sit together and dream. Both Charles and June (like the rest of the world) soon become extremely addicted to these "Fantasites". The fact that the government notices that "Fantasites" are an addictive product causes them to put a country wide ban on the popular worms.
It is at this moment that the film's tone totally shifts from a lighter comedic style to a dark and disturbing one. Charles turns into a total different character, he needs "Fantasites" to function and he will do whatever he needs to do to obtain them. Reed tells Charles that he knows someone that can help him obtain some "Fantasites". Reed introduces Charles to his "Fantasites" dealer who offers Charles a deal, complete this job and have all the "Fantasites" you could ever dream of. I am not going to tell you what happens next but needless to say Charles goes on the job and some batshit crazy things occur. Things that you would never think Charles would ever do but because of the fact that his body is addicted to these "Fantasites" that he will do whatever he has to do to obtain them.
Once again, I am not going to tell you how the film ends but I will tell you that it is an extremely satisfying ending that will leave most viewers happy. I have noticed that a lot of these low budget independent films have a hard time figuring out how to end their films, Worm though is not one of them.
Please do yourself a favor and go out and pick up Worm, it is truly a remarkable film. Not because of the fact that it is fresh and enjoyable, but because of the hidden messages about consumerism and addiction that are meshed into the narrative. I am very excited to see Doug Mallette's next film because I know after my experience with Worm it is going to be a truly special one.