Since the beginning of time mankind has chased immortality, indeed one of the first works of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, concern’s the title character’s search for eternal life. Of course, now the quest revolves around science, not magic or religion, on the manipulation of genes and DNA the very building blocks of life. Now, what would you do if you could not only save your children from a fatal disease but render them immortal? Or what would you do to steal the secret and profit from it? CHIMERA, the debut film from Maurice Haeems looks into these questions and has a rather bleak answer.
Quint (Henry Ian Cusick LOST, THE 100) is a scientist determined to save his children from a deadly genetic disease. He cryogenic freezes them to buy time while he conducts his research into the DNA of the Turritopsis jellyfish, the only animal that is functionally immortal. Running low on funding and stem cells he makes a deal with Masterson (Kathleen Quinlan EVENT HORIZON) who can get him what he needs but wants her youth back, and her husband’s illness cured in return. Add in Quint’s former colleague and lover Charlie (Jenna Harrison AGAINST THE DARK) and there’s a volatile mix just waiting to explode.
Writer/director Haeems has a background in both science and business and he brings that to the table in the film’s script which explores the intersections between science, business, greed, and obsession. With CHIMERA’s basic plot and title, I was expecting a monster movie, and that’s what I got, except the monsters here are all very human. Indeed, all the films main characters are at least conflicted, if not actually shades of evil. While it’s more realistic, it does make it harder to get into the story due to a lack of anyone to fully empathize with. But once you do get into it, CHIMERA has a very compelling, if grim, story. This isn’t a feel-good movie, be prepared for some rough going emotionally, very rough at times. It may not be for all tastes but it is compelling and does hit its targets.
Shot with a limited budget on one location in Fitchburg MA which is about as far from Hollywood as it gets, CHIMERA is another example of how much can be accomplished with talent and enthusiasm. Haeems used several tragic events from his own life as inspirations for Quint’s backstory and it may have helped build a stronger connection between him and the story. Backed up by an excellent cast it really delivers. There’s also a surprising amount of gore and (non-sexual) nudity for such a serious film which helps keep it from feeling like a message movie.
CHIMERA isn’t for all tastes, but those looking for some serious-minded science fiction/horror will be well rewarded.