Review by Brian Koller|
3 stars out of 4
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is an interesting, intelligently
scripted film, particularly for a 1950s horror film. However,
the melodramatic score, heavy-handed direction and hammy acting
make it more of a comedy than it was intended to be.
The plot has a Dr. Binnell arriving to town after a vacation
and encountering a rash of people claiming that their relatives
are no longer themselves. Later, these same people recant.
Gradually, Binnell comes to believe that these people are
controlled by aliens and that they are after him as well.
This film asks the questions: What if the people closest to you
were suddenly different. What if they had some secret and evil
plan? What if they wanted you to join them, even against your
will? While the plot has these people's bodies possessed by
alien pods from outer space, the screenplay may be a thinly
disguised jab at cold war paranoia in the U.S., and the general
belief that communists were around every corner and out to
subvert the country. Since screenwriters as well as actors
were blacklisted (see Woody Allen's "The Front") and lived
in fear of losing their jobs during the cold war, any protest
that a screenwriter made would have to be between the lines.
The "pod people" in this film don't act like the controlled zombies
you would expect them to be, except in the group scenes. Taken
one by one, they just seem to be bad tempered. Often they
act quite human. More consistency for "pod people" behavior
would have been an improvement, as well as greater contrast
in personalities between those converted and those still alive.
Binnell, who has somehow remained single and unattached all these
years, meets old flame Becky Driscoll, also unattached.
They are a couple for the rest of the film. This begs the
questions: Why does a sci-fi flick have to have a love interest
subplot? Why can't Binnell and Becky be cast as happily
married rather than just reunited long lost lovers?
Is a relationship only considered interesting if it is brand new?
The studio wanted to soften the ending of the "Invasion of
the Body Snatchers", so the put additional scenes at the beginning
and end of the film. It can be argued that tampering with
the director's concept ruins the film, but a three minute
scene added to an eighty minute film cannot significantly
affect its grade.
Petty criticisms aside, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is
a good and original film that successfully explores the
paranoia that sometimes lurks within us all.
Copyright © 1999 Brian Koller