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CFF24: The Fix Trips Too Fast Into Body Horror Hell

Image Courtesy of Showmax

We may be calling it The 2024 Chattanooga Film Festival, but realistically, this year belongs to Grace Van Dien. The actress appeared in two of the festival’s world premieres this weekend, Somnium on Saturday and tonight’s closing film, The Fix. As a kid, Van Dien started with bit parts, playing alongside her father in one of her earliest roles, Christmas Twister (aka F6: Twister), and earned a massive following by streaming video games on her Twitch channel. She’s recently come into her own, taking more prominent and mainstream parts, and gaining national attention in the role of the ill-fated Chrissy Cunningham in season four of Stranger Things.

The poster for The Fix shows a woman in a bathtub looking in a mirror at the changes on her face

Van Dien takes the lead in The Fix as Ella, an up-and-coming supermodel who lives in the shadow of her late mother. On the anniversary of her passing, a distraught Ella reluctantly takes the advice of her father and attends a party she quickly comes to regret. Ella walks in on her drug-dealer boyfriend Tully (Tafara Nyatsanza) and best friend Gina (Robyn Rossouw) having an intimate moment, causing Ella to steal an experimental drug Tully pinched from his suppliers and take it, not knowing its effects. A race to capture Ella ensues, entangling Ella in a Big Pharma super-conspiracy as her body begins physically mutating into something inhuman.

Writer-director Kelsey Egan posits a dystopian future our world is dangerously teetering toward, where the last free commodity we seemingly have, air, has been poisoned from over-industrialization and opportunely monetized in the wake of that f*ck up. The CEO, O’Connors (Daniel Sharman), seems laser-focused, wanting to stop at nothing to fix the air-quality issue with a lot of Spock “the needs of the many” talk, but without much consent or approval. It’s relatively easy to see some parallels to another real-life CEO who speaks similarly about changing the world. O’Connors does so through similar questionable business ethics he attempts to impose on his estranged son.

In fact, The Fix’s motives are well-disguised but easily recognizable. While the film takes place in the near-future, a lot of themes from the near-past are central. The toxin in the air has every person on the planet wearing a mask, and the race to find a permanent solution seems recently familiar. The Fix even goes a step further by purporting a class system of those who can’t get the drugs against the elite, who can afford not to worry about access. Even the idea of a drug changing Ella’s DNA is less science fiction fantasy than it may have been five years ago.

A man in a pink windbreaker drives a convertable with a mask on next to a woman holding her phone, also wearing a mask.
Image Courtesy of Showmax

The Fix features multiple nods to Luc Besson films Lucy and The Fifth Element, pacing on par with Run Lola Run on speed, and body horror elements that infer Cronenberg’s Rabid, Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil, Eric England’s Contracted, and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 throughout, proving Kelsey Egan is a clear lover of the genre. But even with a well-written story, smart and sophisticated themes embedded, and some utterly brilliant effects work, The Fix moves so fast it forgets to support its greatest asset: its characters. Egan is building such an incredible fantasy here and sending a message of people over profits, but it just feels as though we should care more about Ella, her friends, and even her unexpected allies.

Beyond Van Dien, The Fix has the very capable Daniel Sharman as its villain. You may know him as Troy from Fear the Walking Dead, where Sharman embodied the bad guy for two seasons of the show. Tafara Nyatsanza is another. You’ve probably recently seen him alongside Idris Elba as Banji in Beast. The same goes with Tomb Raider’s Keenan Arrison and The Shawshank Redemption’s Clancy Brown. There is no skimping on talent here, yet there’s barely any breathable room for these actors’ characters to connect with the audience. The film is a fast-paced ninety-eight minutes that genuinely feels like a rollercoaster ride of rapid location changes and escalating stakes. The Fix utilizes very ambitious pacing that could benefit from letting scenes catch their breath before throwing its audience into another action sequence loop-de-loop.

The Fix contains some excellent imagery from fantastic set locations and design, boasting high production value and dressing. But it often feels like an adrenaline-induced soundtrack with a movie happening on top of it. I’m sure The Fix will have its fans based on that aesthetic, which, for many young moviegoers, will look unique to the action movies they’ve grown up with, primarily dominated by Marvel franchises. In that regard, the look of The Fix is very much on par with a triple-A film, yet its pace and character detachment give it a very B-movie vibe.

A woman bangs on a glass divider where a man is observing her in THE FIX.
Image Courtesy of Showmax

See The Fix if you’re a fan of body horror, sci-fi, or Luc Besson. It remains a fun time, even if it feels like a whirlwind.

The Fix held its world premiere on Sunday, June 23, as a part of The Chattanooga Film Festival. Virtual tickets to see the film in your own home are available now through June 28 via a virtual festival badge or purchase of the individual film. See the Chattanooga Film Festival website for more information.

Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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