Body Snatchers

07/18/2016 20:00

Film: Body Snatchers

Year: 1993

Director: Abel Ferrara

Writer: Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli and Nicholas St. John

Starring: Gabrielle Anwar, Meg Tilly and Terry Kinney



This film is one that I saw parts of on the movie channels growing up. I didn’t know what it was but there was a scene in the bathtub that stuck with me. I also remember the iconic lines that Meg Tilly says as well. This is one that I saw all the way through years ago and decided to come back to it as part of my Traverse Through the Threes. It also works in an October movie challenge.

Synopsis: a teenage girl and her father discover alien clones are replacing humans on a remote U.S. military base in Alabama.

This starts a family moving to a military base from the synopsis. The father is Steve (Terry Kinney) and he works for the EPA. There are chemicals that are being stored at this base and he is there to make sure they are properly handled with minimal chance of leaks and contamination. He’s married to Carol (Tilly). Steve has a daughter that he brought to this marriage in Marti (Gabrielle Anwar). Her mother passed away. The parents do have a son together, Andy (Reilly Murphy).

The family stops at a gas station before reaching the base and Anwar goes to use the restroom. She is attacked by a soldier inside. He has a knife and he covers her mouth. The weapon was put to her throat. The soldier is played by Keith Smith. He warns her about how it happens in your sleep. He lets her go and disappears as she goes for help.

They arrive at the base and get settled. Marti befriends the daughter of the general in charge, Jenn Platt (Christine Elise). She does get in trouble when they stay out later than they’re supposed to. Andy has a rougher go. At daycare, all the children have the same drawing. He runs away and is found by a helicopter pilot, Tim Young (Billy Wirth). He takes a liking to Marti and he’s part of why she gets in trouble.

Steve has an interesting go as well. Gen. Platt (R. Lee Ermey) helps with the investigation, only to get him off the base as soon as possible. Steve also meets Dr. Collins (Forest Whitaker) who has had patients coming in and seeming to suffer from hallucinations. Steve states that the chemicals wouldn’t have those effects on people. Things at home are different as well when Carol acts more robotic than she did previously. Paranoia sets in as they try to figure out who has been taken and who is normal. Time is ticking before it is too late.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I’m going to start is that this is a scary concept. If you don’t know, this is another take on the novel ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. I’ve not seen the 1950s original, but I’ve seen the one from 1978, this and the Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig version in the theater. I’ll try not to compare this to other versions, but I do want to at least point out the differences and what works.

First, I do like that this starts with seeing space and stars. I get the idea this is signifying flying through it while it gives us the credits. I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but the pods that create copies of us are aliens. They are exact copies except that they don’t show emotions. This is terrifying to me that you could have someone you know look and act like themselves, just being off. There’s the other side of being changed. They are taking us over to create their own utopia society. There would be no hate or hurt. Everyone would work together. You also lose your individuality as well.

Then to shift from this, I love the change that this is taking place on a military base. There’s a great scene where you see them fishing out pods from a swamp. That feels right in seeing that. What makes it scary in starting with military people, there is aura of command they bring. If they tell you to go into a room where they change you, you tend to go along with it. There is that fear of violence. We see a great scene later in this movie where trucks are going to various military bases around the United States. We are seeing the apocalypse in real time.

The next thing I want to bring up involves acting. This does strategic things in setting up characters. We see Carol, Steve, Marti, Andy, Tim and Jenn before they change. That is what you need. Marti and Carol don’t get along. Carol is affection toward Steve and Andy though. I’ll credit Tilly, Anwar, Kinney, Murphy and Elise here. We don’t know if any of them are themselves as it goes on. Wirth is an interesting performance to me. He is emotionless from the start. I’m not sure if this is just him or if he was asked to play it this way. It doesn’t ruin the movie, because of how things play out. He is also a soldier so it could be his training. I’ll also credit Ermey, even though I want more of him. Whitaker is also solid in his role. The acting is good across the board. We also get to see Anwar and Tilly nude if you are curious.

All that is left then would be filmmaking. I think that the cinematography we get looks good. They capture the isolated location of this base through the opening sequence. The gas station looks rundown and there are shots of fields that go on for long distances. Also showing the swamps as well. There is then the shots of the trucks heading out into the world that add to how this needs to be stopped before it is too late. The effects look good. They went practical. I love how we see the pod and the people it is creating. If stopped, they look old and lacking the nutrients to survive. This worked for me. There is only one spot of bad effects, but it is quick and at the end. Other than that, I’d say that the soundtrack fit what was needed as well.

In conclusion, I think that this is an interesting take on the body snatching narrative. It has elements that I’ve seen in other versions. What I like here is focusing it on a military base and how that could lead to the end of the world. I thought that the cast we had was good. Anwar isn’t great as our lead, but she is attractive so that doesn’t hurt. What I did like was seeing the baseline of characters before they change. Wirth adds there since he is emotionless from the start. This is well made with credit to the cinematography and the effects. This doesn’t work as well as the 1978 version, but it still stands on its own with the changes that it made. I’d recommend it if you like these ‘alien/body snatching’ narratives.


My Rating: 7 out of 10