Metal Shifters

| February 6, 2012

A particularly bad endeavor from the Syfy original movie series, Metal Shifters is about a Russian satellite crashing in a small town. The satellite was knocked out of orbit by a meteor carrying an alien bacteria, which thrives on metal surfaces. Not only that, the bacteria is apparently physically strong enough to animate its metal “hosts” and hunt down human beings. Why does it want to kill humans? Because it needs to infect our blood and consume the irons and coppers we all naturally carry. Why doesn’t it just consume the literally tons of metal it infects and animates along the way? I have no idea.
Plot holes are commonplace for Syfy originals. Artificial character arcs and flimsy scientific justifications are kind of their niche. But Metal Shifters really lowers the bar. As far as the characters go, our cast includes two brothers, Jake and Ethan (Kavan Smith and Colby Johansson), Jake’s high school girlfriend (Nicole De Boer, Stephen King’s Dead Zone, 2002), and her teenage daughter (Merritt Patterson). Jake and Ethan have invested all their money into remodeling a rundown house (presumably for resale or something? It’s unclear). Emotions fly when Jake’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda, moves back to town after a recent divorce. Everything is fairly straight forward and obvious until a metal statue built by the owner of the local scrap metal yard (Donnelly Rhodes) is infected by this alien bacteria and starts killing people around town.
Which brings us to the air tight scientific logic at work in Metal Shifters. It’s a necessity of each of these films to go to enormous lengths to explain how everything is scientifically plausible. These explanations are traditionally long, repetitive, and for all the time spent on them they don’t really ever make sense. Thankfully for the audience, Amanda is a science teacher, and with very little contact with the bacteria she is able to figure out that the alien mold can only thrive on metal, and that it wants to infect humans for our blood metals. All this is more or less believable. The really confusing part about the science is the idea of the bacteria not only clinging to the 12 foot metal statue and moving it, but actually animating it. It’s hard to understand why the bacteria would want or even be able to move the statue like an automaton; bending its knees to walk, and turning its head to [seek out its prey?]. This complete lapse of common sense makes it impossible for the audience to suspend their disbelief and try to enjoy this on any level.
Special features on the DVD include only a behind the scenes featurette.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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