** Contains Spoilers **
From time to time a horror film comes along that is the very definition of B movie. Ron Underwood’s classic worm-fest TREMORS is perhaps the best example, but comic book artist-cum-director Kaare Andrews’ 2010 horror/sf/Lovecraftian mashup ALTITUDE also springs to mind. And now we have HYBRID.
HYBRID is the not at all outlandish story of a homicidal car that is able to shape-shift in order to better hunt humans. Said humans, in the form of two drunk kids who have just left a club, stumble across an expensive sports car in a secluded alley and decide to steal it. No sooner have they climbed inside than the doors lock and refuse to open. The kids, desperate to escape, try to break the windows, but soon realise they’re not made of glass. The car isn’t a car at all, but some sort of creature, and they’re in its stomach... Gorged on its latest meal the car takes itself for a joyride, and ends up in a catastrophic collision. It’s towed to a police impound garage where it promptly repairs itself and starts stalking and killing the mechanics.
Absolute suspension of disbelief is required from the outset. The central premise is ludicrous enough, but what follows strains plausibility to breaking point. It’s one thing to accept a hot young woman as the chief mechanic and a sexist bully as her boss, but quite another to buy that said bully ordered all the exits welded shut to stop ‘crack heads’ from breaking in. Left with no way out (his dedication to effective crime-prevention also extended to welding the windows shut), the survivors have no choice but to try and turn the tables on the predatory vehicle.
Nonsense aside, there are some good ideas in HYBRID. Being a shape-shifter the car can look like anything, which in a multi-storey underground parking facility makes for some tense scenes. Another nice touch is the car’s ‘windscreen vision,’ a PREDATOR-like thermal image of the world. This, coupled with the vehicle’s shark-like shadow sliding across the walls and its big cat-like throaty growl rolling from the shadows, turns it into a genuinely imposing hunter.
Things fall apart at the end. HYBRID simply doesn’t have the budget for its effects-heavy finale, and ends up looking silly. Its PG-13 rating and mostly bloodless deaths don’t help. The premise is good, and with a sharper, more restrained script and darker tone it could have been seriously scary. As it stands HYBRID is a fun if flawed B movie distraction.