Jimmy Pond (Jeremy Crutchley) is an Englishman driving through the San Fernando Valley when his car breaks down. He looks for help at a nearby house, knocking on the door only to find himself greated by a beautiful woman in a red dress named Maryanne.
“Funny,” he tells her. “Maryanne was always my favorite on the island.”
She doesn’t understand the reference but quickly seduces him. After sex, he meets her flatmates, Gillian and the Skipper. Before he can run, they knock him cold. Lights out.
Flytrap is a psychological thriller from a few years ago. In fact, it’s a half-decade old. It’s the sort of well-made independent film that can these days be found in the depths of an Amazon Prime Video membership or as a rental on a less ubiquitous service, having screened at a few festivals and then disappeared into the depths of an IMDb resume. Time and space constraints mean it has to tell its story economically; that it feels shot in someone’s personal home is fine because the story is about being trapped in someone’s personal home. Despite those restrictions, it still manages to tell a minimalist story with cosmic stakes.
Crutchley in particular is confident as the lead, whose growing fear and frustration over his situation are masked by a shaky bravado. He starts to fall for one of his captors, even as they basically rape him for the sake of producing a child. It’s intense, but the context … well, the context doesn’t make it any better for the character except for the fact that his tormentor and lover is an extraterrestrial from Venus looking to reproduce with a human. It’s kind of a downer, really, a less erotic-horror take of sorts on similar subject matter found in Philip José Farmer’s Image of the Beast, a book I was coincidentally reading last night. The coincidence shocked me. I’m not quite sure what to make of it in Flytrap, although the coda to Pond’s story makes clear his traumatic experiences are text rather than the filmmakers making light of the subject.
Still, it’s a good taste of feature-length psychological horror. The internal logic of Pond’s situation is sound and the challenges of escaping with his life are frequent. The pacing is lithe and enjoyable, and Crutchley is great in the lead. It’s a shame so many indie movies that succeed creatively disappear into the rabbit-hole of streaming, but it’s also nice that these days they’re a fortuitous scroll away.