Soho Horror Film Festival: Skyman, Variant, and The Things With the Glowing Green Eyes

Michael Selle in Skyman

Variant kicked things off at the final Soho Horror Film Festival’s Shockdown Saturday with a lo-fi look at a deadly alien virus that transforms its host into something Clive Barker might even wince at. Before I can even get into the plot of this one, it should be known that director Joe Meredith has a lot of talent in the art and creature creation departments with monsters that will recall the work of H.R. Giger. Meredith with his special effects team James Bell and Matt Jefferson do such fantastic work in bringing these nightmares to life that it’s hard to believe they’re only working on shorts and not much larger productions.  

The story of Variant isn’t as clear as its intention to make you squirm. The film starts with some people in hazmat suits burning the body of a three-skulled corpse with tentacles, trying to contain an apparent variant of a deadly virus doomed to be unleashed in the second half of the film. The main plot is a man setting up an ambush to get his hands on a lethal virus and spread a new infection. Unfortunately, the film shifts more between still images of freaky creatures that, while utterly unsettling, make the short feel more like a highlight reel at times than a narrative piece.  

A decomposing corpse with three skulls

The reason for that could be because Variant rounds out The EonCorp trilogy that Meredith began with South-Mill District in 2018 and followed up with Teratomorph in 2019. The films are all connected by the evil corporation EonCorp who seems to behave a lot like a cross between Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation or Alien’s Weyland-Yutani. There are obvious inspirations from many special-effects-centric films from The Thing to Jurassic Park which is an inherent part of the fun in watching the film. The fact that it’s all filmed in the style of a VHS tape helps recall the weird midnight movies you’d find in a video store that Variant would absolutely fit in with…and it would likely eat some of them. 

The film also moves to grave-rising corpses hungry for human flesh, and then a female character that succumbs to her fate during a disturbing mash-up between The Evil Dead and H.P. Lovecraft. Variant is certainly a feast for die-hard genre fans and delivers truly amazing effects work and even more bizarre ideas in creating its monsters. Even if it’s a bit loose in terms of what it’s trying to provide in a story, Variant is still worth a peek.

Where Variant was a tonally serious and dark breed of horror movie centered on blood, guts, vomit, and other fluids, Skyman and its opening short The Things with the Glowing Green Eyes were of considerably lighter fare.  

The Sheriff aims his gun as a green glow comes over his face
Daniel Allen in The Things With the Glowing Green Eyes

Jeremy Herbert’s The Things with the Glowing Green Eyes is undeniably one of the most creative approaches to mental health I’ve ever seen. In a town where the biggest issues concern parking spaces and toxic mold, Bernie (Morgan McLeod) asks the mayor (Daniel Alan Kiely) what he’s going to do about The Things with the Glowing Green Eyes. Everyone at the meeting sort of looks at Bernie strangely until he tells a story about a date that doesn’t go well, leaving him a bit down and isolated. When he goes home, The Things with the Glowing Green Eyes slowly go from being in the parking lot of his apartment complex to inside the hallways of his apartment with him.  

Bernie’s recognition of these creatures inspires others to talk about their own encounters with them with Gail (Catherine Csanyi), an innkeeper, stating she waited one out for three days by sleeping in one of the inn’s rooms. The sheriff (Daniel Allen) attempted shooting them, Bernie’s out-of-town date Trudy (Jenson Strock) saw one as she slept off her intoxication in her car, and even the mayor ends up confessing he too has seen them. Every story inspires another person to speak up, with the next feeling encouraged to talk about their depression, inner-demons, and hardships that make them feel like not their best selves. The concept is extremely original and admirably executed with moments of surprising humor. The group comes together and talks about their experiences instead of ignoring the issues that literally surround them all.  

The Things with the Glowing Green Eyes was a wonderful lead-in to Skyman, a faux documentary that harbors a similar sadness in its protagonist, Carl Merriweather (Michael Selle), whose life surrounds an alien encounter he insists happened when he was just a boy. Now approaching forty, Carl has a nagging feeling that the visitors he saw as a child are coming back for a reunion. Carl goes to an alien convention, openly discusses his experiences throughout, and only asks for acceptance for much of the film. Carl becomes a lot pushier by the end as he enlists the help of his best friend Marcus (Faleolo Alailima) and sister Gina (Nicolette Sweeney) to go out to a converted shipping container in the desert to signal the aliens and get proof of their existence.  


What I enjoyed about Skyman is how honest it feels in its approach. Writer-director Daniel Myrick, part of the team that created The Blair Witch Project, achieves isolation in Carl’s character that suggests seclusion and bullying even within his own family. This makes Skyman very heartfelt and its character easy to empathize with, which is why I became bummed out learning the film wasn’t a real documentary when I questioned something about a half-hour into the film. Convincing people the movie is real is kind of Myrick’s schtick, right? Not that I wouldn’t have known by the end anyway, but I was really taken out of the experience by a silly mistake in a hardware store and recognition of camera angles that a documentary film crew wouldn’t be accessing. 

Skyman is good at the beginning and good at the end, but a large portion of the film’s second act feels bloated, meandering, and unnecessary. For the most part, we get an ending that seems obvious, albeit appropriate, when given the journey. There’s never a time where the ending doesn’t unfold exactly what you think is going to happen. It’s the only part with a lot of excitement, and yet it’s the beginning I seem to remember more fondly anyway, having thought this may have just been a genuine documentary about an alien truther at the start and, like Fox Mulder, just wanting to believe. 

Skyman is available to stream for free on Vudu and available to rent on Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube. 


For more of our Soho Horror Film Festival coverage, please check out:

Celebrate Sohome Horror Pride Festival July 2nd–July 4th

Soho Horror Film Festival Finale: Sister Tempest, Useless Humans, and Shorts

Soho Horror Film Festival: Bright Hill Road and Nightingale

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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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