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Body Snatchers

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 09/24/02 14:15:06

"If you're going to remake a remake, at least you can make it this well."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Remakes come in two kinds – ‘crap compared to the original’ and ‘okay compared to the original.’ Body Snatchers comes up large in the latter category, managing to benefit from improved special effects techniques over its ancestors, but perhaps losing a little guts in the process. A surprisingly good remake of the 1956 (and 1978) horror thriller, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, director Abel Ferrara has made good use of a small budget, decent cast and smart pacing, to create a film that you can’t help but like, even if it had no business being made.

Marti (Gabrielle Anwar) is the new gal at the army camp, her dad having recently shifted his family to the base to take on a job. While on their way to the base, Marti encounters a madman in a gas station bathroom warning her that “they get you when you sleep”. We’re soon made aware of who “they” are, when we begin to realize that some of the folks on this base are just plain weird, not to mention emotion-free.

Who has been taken over by the alien pods? Who can you trust? Is there anyone like you even left?

Ferrara and his screenwriters (there’s a lot of them) were smart to base this remake on an army base, because how can you really tell who has been taken over by alien pods and who is just a regular, boring, emotion-free jar-head? The ensuing confusion helps to weave a pretty suspenseful flick made all the more suspenseful by some decent performances. Anwar is on the money, even if she has about twenty actual lines throughout the flick. Meg Tilly, who plays her new step-mom, is also on fire, showing that Jennifer may have the jugs in their family, but Meg has the talent.

Likewise, if there's anyone in the Whitaker family more talented than Forest Whitaker, I don't think I could handle knowing about it. Here the guy named after a geographical term plays the camp doctor and he TOTALLY freaks out. Great to watch the big guy crumble, and Christine Elise, a face you’ll undoubtedly know, though you won’t know where from, plays the base Commander’s rebellious daughter with seductive flair.

It’s easy to dismiss a remake of a film that was a remake itself (and which did big business only 25 or so years ago) but Body Snatchers has a lot going for it. While it’s really not likely to make you feel nauseous or even very scared, it’s a decent thriller that moves along at a nice pace and sets up edge of your seat scenes without resorting to cheap tricks. Ferrara, who made a name for himself with Bad Lieutenant, a few years after nigh ruining his name with Driller Killer, knows his way around the human mind. He sets up scenes that might not have us looking away in disgust but which nonetheless make us think bad thoughts. Though his choice for Marti’s father (Terry Kinney) has all the emotion of the very emotion-free aliens this family is running from, you don’t really care since you know he’s going to die. Hell, it’s Invasion of the Body-Snatchers – everyone’s going to die!

If there’s a downside to this production it’d be the final act. About a page and a half in length, the flick goes from dire problem to simplistic solution in a heartbeat and then it’s all over. For such a good set-up, the knockout punch is a bit of a limp-wristed slap. But then, Gabrielle Anwar shows her boobies, so any points lost by the ending are instantly re-earned.

Let’s face it, this thing is long out of cinemas and the only way you’re going to see it is on TV or video rental – either would be fine value for money. As for owning the film, well that depends how close to your heart you hold the original masterpieces.

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