Craig J. Clark — Jun. 22nd 2013
I didn’t have very high expectations going into 2007’s Hybrid — after all, the TV movie was pretty much tailor-made for Syfy — but for a story about a guy who receives an experimental eye transplant from a wolf and then starts acting kinda wolfy, it’s remarkably tame. Directed by Yelena Lanskaya from a script by Arne Olsen — whose previous credits include Red Scorpion (which rather infamously was co-conceived and produced by Jack Abramoff), Cop and a Half, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 — Hybrid gives us perfunctory (at best) introductions to its main characters before plunging them into a faintly ridiculous story that everybody on screen takes way more seriously than anybody watching will be able to.
At the Olaris Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, research scientist Justine Bateman is working on the problem of inter-species eye transplants and finds the perfect human guinea pig in heroic security guard Cory Monteith, who loses his sight while saving a dumbass coworker. Meanwhile, Native American teacher Tinsel Korey banters playfully with tribal medicine man Gordon Tootoosis and rescues an injured wolf that rather conveniently gets passed along to Bateman’s research lab. Monteith’s operation is a success, but it comes with some side effects both expected (night vision, which is never referenced again after it is briefly demonstrated) and unexpected (enhanced hearing, strength and agility, as well as vivid flashbacks to the donor wolf’s memories). It also prompts to Korey to break into Olaris to confront Bateman about the innocent wolf that had to give its life so Monteith could spend the rest of the movie wearing yellow contact lenses, but Korey is thrown out before she can make her case. Fortunately, she immediately runs into Monteith and helps him escape, leading to an oddly choreographed bar fight and Monteith’s discovery that he’s a natural conga drummer. His further nocturnal adventures include going out shirtless, running with a group of stray dogs, and winding up at the zoo where he hangs around the wolf enclosure and nearly mauls a guard. There he’s found by Korey and his partner, Brandon Jay McLaren, who lets them crash at his apartment, which is then crashed by a security detail from Olaris under orders from Bateman’s G. Gordon Liddy-like superior, William MacDonald.
From there things spiral even further into absurdity, with Monteith making a dramatic escape from Olaris, doing the nasty with Korey, and being sent on a spirit quest by Tootoosis. The latter sequence is cross-cut with MacDonald and his crew gearing up and heading out to the woods where they patiently stalk Monteith (having been warned that “This is not an ordinary man that you’re going up against”) and then blindly spray automatic weapon fire at anything that moves. Bateman also shows up, having found time to Google “lycanthropes” for the benefit of those in the audience who need to have the concept of clinical lycanthropy explained to them, but Monteith gets the strongest assist from his lupine pals, who help him dispatch all the bad men with the loud guns. He then gets to run off into the sunset with them, which is just about the corniest ending I could ever imagine for a movie about a guy with wolf eyes, but there you have it. Hybrid may be 90 minutes that you’ll never get back again, but what were you planning on doing with them anyway? Restoring eyesight to the blind?
Next Up: Syfy demonstrates why you should never cry werewolf…