The Creeping Garden Review
*Directors: Tim Grabham & Jasper Sharp
*Producers: Tim Grabham & Jasper Sharp
*Music by: Jim O’Rourke & Woob
*Editing: Tim Grabham
There are plenty of topics for documentaries out there. There are plenty of scientific subjects to focus on educating people about. So why did Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp decide that they had to tell the story of the slime mold? Well as it turns out, it’s not so much about slime molds (although it does educate about that topic) but more about the people who study it. Whether it’s an amateur scientist or a professional, people have dedicated the life to the study of this organism.
It’s not really a film you’d expect to hold your interest and yet it somehow does. Watching the molds move through time lapse videos look like something out of The Blob. While the molds appear to be completely harmless, the way it moves and behaves is good enough to not want to fall asleep near one. The worst part is that it doesn’t appear to do anything to the naked eye. And yet when it wants to it can move. It can also stay dormant for incredibly long periods of time. It’s all the makings of a sci-fi monster and it’s real. It might even be in your backyard.
Of course the fact that it’s relatively harmless may be why the people in this documentary are willing to work and learn about it. It actually opens with an amateur scientist roaming a forest to find it. Later on, another scientist shows the slime mold under a microscope. Another makes music with it. Another convinces humans to act like slime molds. There’s a lot of varied experiments by people with far too much free time on their hands, but it all makes for an interesting watch.
One of the best parts about the film is the score from Jim O’Rourke and Woob. It’s this retro electronic vibe that makes it feel like a classic science fiction film from the 70s when it’s actually science fact. It even appears to be shot that way, which according to behind-the-scenes materials, was intentional (it even listed The Andromeda Strain as an influence). If you’re a fan of that style of movie, you can definitely see touches of it here.
The biggest flaw of The Creeping Garden is it’s subject matter. It’s very obscure and out of the box. While they do a commendable job of making it interesting for the purposes of the film, it’s not something most people going to remember or be interested in after it’s over. That makes the documentary itself something that only people who are already interested in will watch. And if that’s the case, they already know a lot of the facts you’re presenting. This feels like a passion project, which will likely alienate anyone who is not part of the
If you take only one thing away from this review, know that The Creeping Garden takes what some may consider a dull documentary subject and manages to hold the viewer’s attention. The enthusiasm and interest from the scientists (professional and amateur) as they talk about slime molds radiates from the production. While you might not find yourself searching for film’s subjects on your own, you’ll definitely have a new appreciation for those who devote their lives to a little-talked about part of nature.
The Creeping Garden features a LPCM 2.0 soundtrack. It makes the score stand out but otherwise there’s not a lot to hear. The dialogue sounds fine, but this is more of a low-key audio presentation for what is a minimalist presentation.
Arrow Academy gives this film an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. It looks very well, especially the scenes of nature. The slime molds are detailed in all of their glory, which is good or back depending on how you feel about slimy things.
Audio commentary with directors Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp: It’s a lot more work to shoot footage of slime molds than you’d think. That’s just one of the facts you get in this commentary that’s almost as interesting as the movie.
Biocomputer Music: This continues one of the segments in the film, showing the results of the musical “dialogue” between man and mold.
Return to the Fungarium: There’s more footage of Byrn Dentiger at the Kew Gardens Fungarium.
Feeding Habits of Physarum: Professor Adam Adamatzky talk about what slime molds like to eat.
cinema iloobia Short Films: You get three of them. Milk and Rotten run at a little over a minute each. Paramusical Ensemble is a ten minute feature mixes mold visuals and music in a strange way.
Angela Mele’s Animated Slime Moulds: The title is self explanatory, as it shows the animations from the closing credits without the text.
This set comes with a bonus CD featuring the film’s soundtrack (two long tracks). You also get a gallery and a terrible trailer, which simply has the film’s title and release date, but nothing about what it could be about. Something tells me it was made for those who already knew as a means to hype the project to like-minded folks.
There’s not a lot here and what’s here isn’t every long, but if you liked the score it’s nice to have a soundtrack.
Special Features: 5.5