Star Trek’s Most Underrated Movie Is Secretly A Horror Film

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

For the most part, Star Trek: Insurrection has earned a reputation as a lighthearted movie that leans into the core elements that have always made Trek great, including exploration, discovery, and empathy.

For this reason, I have previously dubbed it one of the most underrated films in the franchise, but it has a darker side that most fans have never considered.

If the plot point about a planet that can effectively reverse aging and make people immortal is carried out to its logical extremes, then Star Trek: Insurrection is a movie secretly filled with body horror around every corner.

Turning Back The Clock

If you want to know how weird Star Trek: Insurrection could have (and arguably should have) gotten, you should look no further than Mike Flanagan’s excellent limited series Midnight Mass.

Without getting too far into spoiler territory, that show also has characters experience the kinds of rejuvenating effects that Picard and his crew do, and most of these television characters enjoy reverting to their younger, healthier selves.

But a plot point about a pregnant woman who loses her baby due to reverting to a pre-pregnant state underscores the fact that turning back the clock isn’t always a good thing.

Same Scenario?

Theoretically, that exact event would happen to any pregnant woman aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek: Insurrection, as the effect seems to extend beyond the planet to any ships in orbit.

Weirdly enough, the franchise already dealt with this exact scenario in The Next Generation finale, “All Good Things” when an alternate universe Nurse Ogawa lost her baby after being exposed to an anti-time eruption.

Fortunately, the Ogawa of our universe managed to safely deliver a healthy child, but her alternate universe tragedy reveals the awful fate waiting for anyone on the Enterprise as it orbits the Ba’ku planet in Star Trek: Insurrection.

Different Bodily Versions

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Additionally, while the franchise rarely emphasizes the possibility, Star Trek is a universe where countless people can undergo the wildest body modifications whenever they want.

Think about it: in a world where characters like Captain Sisko can be made to look like a Klingon warrior (seen in the Deep Space Nine episode “Apocalypse Rising”), the kinds of basic plastic surgery common in our world would be more attainable than ever.

This gives Federation citizens infinite options to explore the bodies they want to have, but anyone on the ship in Star Trek: Insurrection would revert to a version of themselves they might utterly hate.

Potential Body Horror

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Another scary potential effect would be the return of unwanted birth defects or congenital defects that were fixed later in life.

The rejuvenating properties in Star Trek: Insurrection seem to restore people to a kind of prime of life, much like we see later on in Midnight Mass.

That’s all well and good, but if someone had a defect fixed past that point, then the planet’s healing effects would bring those potentially life-ruining defects back quicker than you can say “Worf’s pimple.”

In addition to all the potential for body horror that would make David Cronenberg proud, Star Trek: Insurrection has another creepy possibility hiding in plain sight.

Admiral Dougherty

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One of the major villains in Star Trek: Insurrection is Admiral Dougherty, an elderly and amoral Starfleet officer who assures Picard that his plan to displace the Ba’ku and basically steal their healing planet has the full endorsement of the Federation Council. 

This would mean that Dougherty and the elderly Council leaders are wanting to use the planet’s rejuvenating powers to effectively live forever.

As a franchise, Star Trek has had evil admirals as antagonists from the very beginning. If their plan had been successful, the Federation and Starfleet upper leadership would have become an evil, immortal gerontocracy whose reign would never end, and in an election year, I don’t have to explain why that’s such a scary idea.

Flawed But Fun Film

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Insurrection is a flawed but fun film, and I certainly don’t want to yuck the yum of any fans who enjoy it as a lighthearted romp with their favorite characters.

However, there’s a section of the fandom that has waited years for Star Trek to embrace the horror genre. If you’re one of them, I’ll tell you the same thing about Insurrection that Picard once said about Data and the Starfleet mandate to seek out new life: “there it sits!”

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