28th Oct2021

‘The Mutation’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ricardo Freitas, Amanda-Jade Tyler, Abi Casson Thompson, James Robertson, Megan Purvis, Sarah T Cohen, Derek Nelson, Andrew Rolfe, Allis Smith, Zoe Purdy, Jodie Bennet, Kathi DeCouto, Brendan Jones | Written and Directed by Scott Jeffrey

The Mutation follows the aftermath of a deadly experiment on a rat which goes horribly wrong… The scientist behind the experiment is killed and the now-mutated rat his let loose in a city, with a group of detectives on the hunt for the beast. Zoologist Allen Marsh must work alongside the scientists grieving widow to help the detectives capture and exterminate the mutated rat. As the body count rises, no one is safe, and the rat is growing at a rapid pace!

The Mutation looks like the biggest budgeted production Scot Jeffrey’s has put together. Ever. Seriously, this film looks nothing like the swathes of other films from Jeffrey, be it a Champdog co-production or his own Jagged Edge Productions, that are currently available to stream online right now. It’s also more clear than ever that this film was made directly for the US market – the vast British cast all putting on fake American accents to varying degrees of success (so much so that I’ve read US reviews of this film that say the cast are speaking with British accents!) and the locations are dressed to look as “American” as possible – even if remnants of their British origins remain.

In my review of Doctor Carver I mentioned that director Louisa Warren and producer Scott Jeffrey had really upped the ante in terms of gore effects in that film but here Jeffrey’s REALLY goes for the jugular, with a bevy of bloody, gory and gooey PRACTICAL effects work that give the film more of a horrific edge – which is needed when you consider this films antagonist is a bloke in a giant fury rat suit. Well I say rat but the creature looks more like a werwolf with bat ears than a rat for most of the film!

Speaking of Doctor Carver, actor Ricardo Freitas – who played the sleazy abusive photographer that drove one of that films protagonists to a supernatural plastic surgeon – takes a complete 180 in terms of character here. In The Mutation he’s the hero, zoologist Allen Marsh, a man determined to get to the bottom of this giant rat story and capture the titular mutation before the cops do. Oh and fall in love with the dead scientists wife while he’s at it! Yes, he’s playing the typical movie hero role… Which is indicative of this film – the characters really do conform to the usual stereotypes and cliches of the genre, can’t have subtlety and nuance in a film aimed squarely at the US DVD market can we? (Please note the sarcasm).

Unlike some lower-budgeted horror films, which forego action for talking, effects for off-screen deaths, The Mutation keeps things moving with a brisk pace and regularly intervaled rat attacks that up the ante on the action each and every time , keeping the audience hooked, waiting on baited breath for the next appearance of our not-so-friendly furry pal. Honestly, never in my right mind would I have thought that we’d see so much of the mutated rat creature – especially considering how little we sometimes see the effects-laden killers in other Scott Jeffrey productions!

In the end our titular mutation changes into its final form. A mega-sized, CGI-rendered hairless rat that looks, honestly, like a stop-motion creature from a movie like The Day Time Ended or the films of Brett Piper. Completing the films transition into a true successor to all those monster movies, from the likes of Full Moon and Troma, we grew up renting from the local video store back in the day!

**** 4/5

The Mutation is out now on DVD and digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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