Embryo, the new Chilean sci-fi thriller from director Patricio Valladeros, was initially slated as a television pilot but had to rework the existing footage into a narrative feature after the pandemic shut down production. In it, we are introduced to a rather complex scenario that owes a bit to both the television show X-Files, the mini-series X, and the 1996 Natasha Henstridge sexy-alien thriller Species. We are told of a legend surrounding Snowdevil Mountain, presumably in the Andes, that involves local women being abducted by aliens and their plan to create a hybrid alien-human race that can live among us undetected.
It’s a concept with potential that could play out like a more salacious Alien Nation, and Embryo introduces us to three interwoven tales that presumably would have played out over the course of a season. But as mentioned earlier, the pandemic had other plans. So apparently, Valladeros gathered together what he had shot and assembled a film that is a hair over the one-hour mark.
The primary narrative features couple Kevin (Domingo Guzmán) and Evelyn (Romina Perazzo), who are camping. During the night, Evelyn encounters a blinding light, and the next morning is found naked by Kevin, covered in slime. We next see her in a doctor’s office. When Kevin comes in to check on her, Evelyn is hunched over the man, feeding on him as he uses his dying energy to reach out for help. For reasons that are unexplained, Kevin decides to go on the run with Evelyn instead of alerting authorities and makes the equally dubious decision to stop several times along the way, leaving her unattended.
“…Evelyn encounters a blinding light, and the next morning is found naked…covered in slime.”
The other two interwoven tales are told through video recorded flashbacks, one involving a camera crew filming on the mountain and another about a woman who was apparently impregnated by extraterrestrials four years ago.
It is rather hard to keep tabs on which segment we are following as they are laid out in a non-chronological order. Still, even if there were distinct cuts for each story, the film fails to develop into anything engaging for viewers. Its shortened time (which may or may not be the result of the pandemic) feels padded with inconsequential footage and leaves little time to invest in any of its characters or the consequences of their alien run-ins.
The performances are serviceable, but character decisions are so frustratingly ill-advised, it is difficult to muster an ounce of interest in any one of them. There is also no internal logic being used, so the various story strands are either confusing or feel disconnected. For instance, the woman impregnated all those years ago appears to have had a typical 9-month gestation. But, Evelyn is said to immediately be carrying an alien/human hybrid. Perhaps this all could have been fleshed out if Embryo gestated until full-term, but as is, there are far too many complications for it to survive as a narrative feature.
"…a concept with potential..."