CHAMELEONWritten, Edited, Directed, Produced, and Photographed by Chris Woods
Cathy Myers - Deborah Thomas
Sarah Myers - Jennifer Shumaker
Davis - Louis Lacieviel
Bum - Luis Matos
By now Iím sure you know that a Chameleon is a type of lizard that changes colors to hide from its predators. The title creature in Chris Woodsí atmospheric thriller CHAMELEON is a monster genetically engineered by the government to take the appearance of anyone it comes in physical contact with, killing the victim in the process. It can also pass its presence from one dying host to the next.
We never learn how the Chameleon escaped from the government. Burned almost beyond recognition, the film opens in media res with the Chameleon nothing more a than John Doe in the hospital. Dying, the creature passes its essence to a nurse, Cathy Myers. Weakened from the burns, the Chameleon canít fully bring itself to take over her body. The new Cathy can remember bits of pieces or her memories, but canít convince herself that sheís the one who lived them.
Soon Cathy finds herself a slave to an uncontrollable bloodlust. Hunted by the government, the only hope Cathy has is her loving, older sister Sarah. Can familial love save the day?
Thereís a trend in modern horror where the villains are completely unsympathetic, each one more evil than the last. CHAMELEON is a monster movie in the classical tradition along the lines of THE WOLF MAN or DR. JECKEL AND MR. HYDE. Itís part of a sub-genre where the villain is often misunderstood or cursed. Cathy had no control over what has happened to her. Does that necessarily make her bad or evil? Whatís interesting is the filmmakers never address this moral ambiguity. Having done so, they might have been able to cover some interesting territory.
CHAMELEON could have benefited from being more fleshed out. Itís one of those films, like Jason Santoís HELL AWAITS, that should have been a full-length feature. The relationship between Cathy and Sarah needs to be more solidified; it feels a bit superficial. This would have given the climax a bit more ďoomph.Ē
CHAMELEON is a technically clean film. The production quality is top-notch. It looks good and sounds great with first rate acting, but it feels like itís missing a soul. Thereís no personal connection between the characters and the audience that lays the groundwork for true suspense. In itís present form, it works best as an extended trailer to be presented to investors when seeking financing for the bigger-budgeted, Hollywood version, which I can easily see on the horizon.