The most horrific aspect of David Cronenberg's version of The Fly is that it's a pretty earnest relationship drama. Not because the hindered courtship of girl reporter Geena Davis by scientist-fly hybrid Jeff Goldblum (what, did I give it away?) is embarrassing, like so many love stories pasted onto genre movies. Quite the contrary. The tension between these two characters - their moments of happiness and the botched science experiment that comes between them - is exactly what makes the film so harrowing.
Oh, and maybe also the brilliantly grotesque makeup by Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis, who won an Oscar for their efforts. But The Fly is never dependent on this impressive craftwork. Cronenberg doesn't skimp on his trademark gooeyness, but doles it out selectively. Creepiness finds other, relatively dry and goo-free places to emerge. A scene of Seth Brundle (Goldblum), after he unwittingly shares a teleportation trip with a common housefly, rising in the middle of the night and performing amazing gymnastic feats becomes unnerving as the camera lingers on a long shot of his spinning, soaring body. Veronica Quaife (Davis) looks on, silent and still, unsure of what to do; tension rises in the scene because of the characters, not just because you don't expect to see Jeff Goldblum doing flips on the parallel bars.
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