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Out-of-Story Info

I watched this movie on Netflix or Hulu, most likely between 2007 and 2013. It looked like it probably came out in a similar time period. Live action, B-movie, so-so CGI. No well-known actors that I remember. American English.

Plot

The setting is a small town in the mountains (possibly Colorado), with just one road/tunnel leading into town. The road in and out gets blocked later on, but I don't remember if this was due to natural causes (i.e. snow/weather) or if it was just a military roadblock. I seem to remember the town being fairly empty, so it may be that townspeople had left for the winter, in anticipation of being snowed in.

I don't remember really how the movie starts, but a creature of some kind is unearthed and begins to terrorize the town. It takes a few different forms throughout the movie, but one of the earliest forms as a pterodactyl. I think that although it changes shape, it is always made up of a sort of gooey black substance. Some people are attacked/killed/eaten semi-secretly (i.e. in their homes or in out-of-sight locations) before townspeople realize that there is a creature out there. Local law enforcement may have started to investigate.

After it is openly known that some kind of creature is terrorizing the town, the military and/or scientists eventually show up. I distinctly remember a sort of mobile lab, possibly armored, that they were working out of. It is discovered that the creature has DNA from all sorts of different animals going back to the dinosaurs, and they theorize that this was a sort of apex predator that could absorb the DNA of other animals. I believe it killed off the dinosaurs and then went dormant in the ice until the present time.

It also appears that the creature is more like algae than animal; a colony of cells that form the shape of a larger organism. I think there is some debate over whether it has human-level consciousness. Regardless, it does appear to gain more intelligence as it absorbs victims, and eventually it copies individual humans that it has attacked, and comes to the other humans to negotiate (I think).

The surviving humans decide that they must destroy (or maybe bury) the creature at any cost, before it can escape the town, otherwise it would lead to extinction of all life on earth. I don't remember if they succeed or not.

Non-Matches

  • Unearthed - Right release period, but set in New Mexico, and I don't think the monster is right.
  • The Thing - Snow is good, but my monster was definitely prehistoric, not alien. And the movie definitely wasn't as good as The Thing.
  • Splinter - Right release period, but no snow, and it doesn't look familiar.
  • Infini Sentient goop sounds right, but release is late, and the setting was definitely not futuristic/off-planet.

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While I was making a final check for duplicates, I found it... but why let all that typing go to waste?

Phantoms (1998)

Phantoms is a 1998 American science fiction horror film adapted from Dean Koontz's 1983 novel of the same name. Directed by Joe Chappelle with a screenplay by Koontz, the film stars Peter O'Toole, Rose McGowan, Joanna Going, Liev Schreiber, Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt and Clifton Powell.

So the release year is pre-2000, but still close. Also... apparently I was very wrong about the no-name actors.

Dr. Jennifer Pailey brings her sister Lisa to the resort town of Snowfield, Colorado, a small ski resort village nestled in the Rocky Mountains where Jenny works as a doctor.

Setting checks out.

Once in town, the sisters find no one around but a few corpses. At first their suspicions are that of a serial killer on the loose in town. The sisters stumble upon the severed heads of the town baker and his wife in an oven when they are found by Sheriff Bryce Hammond, a former FBI agent, and his deputies Stu Wargle and Steve Shanning. Hammond and his deputies are investigating the killings.

This matches the "semi-secret" killings.

The group gets a strange phone call but are interrupted by an attack by a bizarre moth-like creature that rips Wargle's face off before Hammond is able to kill it.

I believe this is the thing I remembered as a pterodactyl.

Hammond's FBI associates find Flyte, a British academic who theorizes the town has fallen victim to the Ancient Enemy, an entity he generalizes as "chaos in the flesh". It periodically wipes out civilizations including that of the Mayans and the Roanoke Island colonists.

...

They are soon joined by an Army commando unit and a group of scientists led by General Copperfield who has come to Snowfield. They, along with Flyte, investigate the town.

Military/scientists show up. Also, I mistakenly replaced the ancient civilizations for the dinosaurs.

The creature attacks Copperfield through a manhole, converting him. Copperfield vomits a sample before melting into a puddle of black liquid.

Black goop.

Through it, Flyte and the group learn the nature of the Ancient Enemy.

Revealed to actually be an Earth-based amoebic life form that mimics its absorbed victims while gaining their knowledge, the Enemy creates Phantoms as temporary detachments for it to act through before absorbing them back into it. Furthermore, the Enemy absorbs all of the thoughts of its victims, making it extremely intelligent...

I guess it was intelligence, not DNA, that it was absorbing.

... because of the previous civilizations' perception of it, it believes itself to be a god. It had arranged all of the prior events so Flyte can assist the creature in revealing its existence to the world.

...

They form a plan to use the Ancient Enemy's extreme arrogance and god complex against itself.

The discussion of the Ancient Enemy's godhood is likely what I misremembered as debate over its consciousness.

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