The Sci-Fi Chronicles book has brought me lots of enjoyment to date, and I got very excited when it was time to revisit the series of films based on the novel by Jack Finney. I’d previously reviewed the original film here but was looking forward to re-watching this version, I’d only seen it a few times, but who can forget that terrifying ending.
Philip Kaufman directs this classic update filling it with an amazing cast; Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Art Hindle and even a cameo by Kevin McCarthy the lead from the original film!
This adaptation is well-written, strongly acted and gets under your skin, troubling the viewer more and more as the characters you come to care about are slowly taken over by the strange plant life that has invaded the planet. I have to say, I did like the opening credits that illustrated how the life forms made it to our tiny little planet.
Donald Sutherland plays Matthew Bennell, an investigator for the Health Department in San Francisco, with Elizabeth (Adams) as a co-worker whom he has strong feelings for, despite the fact that she is seeing Geoffrey Howell (Hindle).
However, when she starts to notice Geoffrey behaving differently, something that seems to be happening all over, she confides in Matthew who recommends talking to Dr. David Kibner (Nimoy) from there we are introduced to the Bellicecs (Goldblum and Cartwright) and watch as this little group starts to discover what is going on, and even they may not be able to resist…
As they get you when you sleep, and how long before you’re so exhausted that you can’t keep your eyes open?
The paranoia builds with their exhaustion, and the subtle special effects are particularly unnerving as you begin to realize that eventually, everyone will succumb and that they can find you anywhere.
This adaptation still has the power to freak you out, the acting, the moments, the effects, the story, everything is top-notch in this version, and will be the one by which all the others are judged. It doesn’t go overboard with big budget scares or epic moments, it’s small, personal, and gets to you that way, as you watch the world slowly fall under the sway of these Body Snatchers.
And with a cast like the one in this film, it will prove hard to beat. There’s realness to the film, not quite a documentary level, but there is the sensation we are more active observer than in a usual sci-fi horror film, because you are aware that something like this, will highly unlikely, could be well within the realm of possibility…
You can’t help but look at those people you know and wonder if they are who they are, or are they something else… And the only way to tell will be to show emotion around them, and risk hearing that terrifying scream as they realize you aren’t one of them…