The Fly is genre-ed as a horror film, but it is so much more than just a scary monster flick, that one assumes jumping into this David Cronenberg masterpiece.
First off it is both a multilayered depiction of transformation, both in the physical and mental sense. While other artists, like Kafka or Ovid, tend to put their characters from state A to state B without much thought and exploration given to the in-between, Cronenberg focuses the whole movie on the in-between phase, from human to a disgusting fly human mutant. When we meet Brundle played by the brilliant Jeff Goldblum, our future fly-man or man-fly, he really strikes one as a snake oil salesman. And that is what journalist Veronica “Ronnie” Quafle thinks of him. But he is surprisingly charming, likable, and they did have a few to drink, so she gives in, goes back to his place, and witnesses his invention, a teleportation device. Brundle is on the verge of a discovery that will change civilization forever, but there is still one problem, he can’t figure out how to teleport living beings.
He and Ronnie become lovers, and along the way, he manages to teleport a living being. But, while in a celebratory mood, he sees Ronnie with her Ex, thinks they are still a thing, and gets drunk. His combination of hubris and insecurities is what brings about his downfall. He teleports himself, but when he enters the telepod, he isn’t alone, a fly is there with him. And so begins his transformation.
The changes are the biggest bringers of horror in this movie, mostly in Brundle’s exterior, but also his psyche. He gets stronger, more athletic, even breaks someone’s arm just by arm wrestling him. But he becomes short-tempered, needy, impatient, and violent. Slowly, the brain of this brilliant man, who was about to change the way we live, becomes a name that is greater than Tesla, Edison and Jobs combined, becomes a monstrosity. The practical effects in this movie really hold up. Nobody does body horror like David Cronenberg. Brundle’s transformation is very slow and detailed. The skin changes are bile-inducing, the teeth falling out, the times when he rips his own fingernails off. What takes the cake, for me at least, are the eating scenes when he is far away from his transformation.
Ronnie suspects that she is pregnant with Brundle, not knowing if the conception happened before and after his “genetic mishap”. And let me tell you, I have never, ever wanted someone to have an abortion more. This discovery brings the finale of the movie, which is brilliant, scary, horrific, but also sad in a lot of ways. And so ends the life of a creature, who first was a brilliant man, destined for great things, but a moment of carelessness, hubris one could call it, turned his promising future into hellish descent into a monstrosity and death.