Invasion of the Body Snatchers Review

Will we even realise aliens are turning us into pod-like beings devoid of emotion or soul? Could be happening right now, we’re just too captivated by horrible modern events and nostalgia pop-pieces to notice our neighbours, friends and family have morphed from dribbling, drooling mongrels to savage beasts of inarticulate expression. Invasion of the Body Snatchers begs us to pay attention, but doing so leaves us defenceless against a boring piece of film commandeered by Don Siegel. Good old Don hasn’t got it in him to cultivate any form of tremendous fear or tactful display of deep-rooted hatred for all things Red in the luscious lands of America.

Those rolling green hills hide dark memories of a past not worth explaining. As Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) appears, it is almost immediately certain that something is not right in this community. Emotionless duplicates of his loved ones are popping up and around, with seemingly no explanation as to how or why. Alien invasions are fickle, fascinating titbits of cinema. Never seemingly coming in peace, it is how the protagonist (and whoever he can drag along) reacts to these moments that saddle themselves with interest and anecdotal behaviour. There is no real depth or meaning to Invasion of the Body Snatchers beyond what we know of the culture surrounding its release.

Similar issues to The Blob, in that regard. Once more into the fold of McCarthyism we go. There is a semblance of conformity and the issues that surround it prevailing, rather obviously, throughout. How different can we be when everyone is placated and so similar? Not much. But that is what Invasion of the Body Snatchers does with its theme. Not much at all. While we can read into those themes with fear and intrigue, Siegel’s direction never quite captures the unremitting fear and consequences of what would happen should McCarthyism spread. Its acts of shoddy treason and conformity of community are adaptable and toyed with, but are never thoroughly committed to commentating on any formal state of the world that surrounds Bennell and his band of survivors. Its implications are happiness within conformity, but Siegel does nothing to state the truth or falsehoods of this.

Certainly deeper than anticipated, Invasion of the Body Snatchers has an interesting initial process to it. What if our trusted loved ones were replaced, overnight, by emotionless beings that looked, sounded and felt like those we confided in? Would we even notice a difference? Bennell does, but he is an observant figure, one whose understanding of the world around him leads to his downfall. It also leads to the downfall of writing, which takes a nosedive and never quite recovers from being jagged in pace and unrewarding in style. Siegel has his moments, but moments make for trailer fodder in the modern world, and here, they have no such luck in that form of survival.

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