Saturday, November 15, 2014

Film Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Review)
United States/1978
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Streaming
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a must-watch for fans the genre."

Matthew (Donald Sutherland), a San Francisco health inspector, and his colleague Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) begin believe people are being perfectly duplicated by aliens...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers begins with some very strong yet subtle buildup, and I love it. It takes its time to introduce the characters and the concept, which creates an overall more effective experience. Slowly but surely, Elizabeth convinces Matthew about people not being the same, like her boyfriend who suddenly becomes emotionless. So, Matthew and Elizabeth, along with some select friends, find themselves searching for answers and trying to survive. Who can they trust? The third act has a few flaws, particularly with one character, but the ending is great -- I actually really love the ending.

In fact, I really enjoyed most of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The first act is wonderful in buildup and character. It takes its time -- not too much, though -- to really create that effective slow-burning sensation. It continues with this sensation for the bulk of the film; in fact, there are some very tense and suspenseful scenes here. Also, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is wonderful in creating a subtle sense of paranoia. The onscreen characters don't bicker and question each other, but I was sitting wondering "is he a duplicate? What about her?" I love when a film hooks you like this, and this film obviously succeeded for me.

There are a few issues, though. There are a couple of pacing issues. I know, I know, I just praised the slow-burn pace, but there is such a thing as burning too slow. Consequently, there are a handful of scenes that feel longwinded. This film probably could have been cut down 5-10 minutes, and be just as effective. Furthermore, there is one character that suddenly becomes incompetent during the final act. This character is great during the first half of the film, but suddenly makes several "mistakes." Really, this character became more of a plot contrivance.

The acting is great, though. Donald Sutherland delivers a strong performance, and Brooke Adams is oozing with charisma. Jeff Goldblum also offers a great supporting performance. The film looks great. I loved the cinematography, and I especially loved the camerawork. (You should seek the High Definition print of this film, it definitely stands the test of time.) The music works very well with the film and the genre. The practical special effects are superb, by the way. Aside from a few pacing issues and a somewhat contrived final act, director Philip Kaufman is fantastic in creating suspense and paranoia; he has crafted a very immersive and atmospheric SciFi thriller.

Overall, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a great film. If you love slow-burn film with atmosphere and immersion, I think you'll love this film. I think you'll especially love this film if you're a fan of movies from the 70s. From its atmosphere to its suspense and from its (once) creative concept to its paranoia, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a must-watch for fans the genre. Be warned of the slow-pace, though.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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