Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy
Director: Philip Kaufman
Running Time: 115 mins
Invasion Of The Body Snatcher is an American film about a group of San Francisco residents who discover that the people around them are gradually being replaced by alien duplicates, which are devoid of all human emotion.
I absolutely love the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers from the 1950s. Not only an epic thriller that defines its era, but also full of gripping social commentary on the Red Scare of the time, it’s more than just a horror movie. And that might be why I didn’t love this remake quite as much.
While it’s harsh to dismiss the 1978 remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers as solely a horror movie, this film’s focus is more squarely shifted to horror tropes and clichés, with a less powerful sense of paranoia in exchange for slightly more frightening terror.
A deliberately unnerving watch throughout, this film more than takes its time to get where it’s going. Using its slow pacing to build a stronger atmosphere of unease and paranoia, this film doesn’t exactly need the breathless thrills of the original to get its message home.
However, over the course of two hours, this version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers makes for a far less exhilarating watch. Not only because of the difference in pacing, but also because of the relative lack of depth in its story, with the allegory to Communism and the Red Scare exchanged for something a lot more generic.
It’s almost reminiscent of The Stepford Wives in the way we see characters slowly replaced by alien duplicates, with the fear and unpredictability of second-guessing whether they’re still human or not really falling by the wayside throughout.
The saving grace for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers here is that, when the film does go full-on with its horror, it really succeeds. The screeching monsters that serve as the film’s main villains are piercingly terrifying, and its use of impressive special effects to give a realistic and stomach-churning portrayal of the aliens as they take over people’s lives around the city goes a long way to making this story convincing.
On the whole, however, I found Invasion Of The Body Snatchers to be a rather mixed bag. An engaging, unsettling and certainly dark watch at its best, the film still lacks the depth and thrill factor of its predecessor, never quite whipping you up into a frenzy of terror at any point. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4 overall.