Film Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers gets a Blu-Ray release. The film is a decent update of the 1956 movie, slightly more concentrated on the science fiction aspects than its predecessor.

Health inspector Matthew Bennell begins to notice that a number of people around him are worried that their family members seem different. The people look identical, but are devoid of emotion…

In Philip Kaufman’s film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been transported from small-town 1950s to late-1970s San Francisco. The update is successful; with viewers of the time more likely to identify with the setting. The modern city setting could have been problematic with the themes of control and isolation inherent in the narrative, but W.D. Richter’s screenplay deals with this effectively.

Pacing is good in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Kaufman allows for a picture to be build of normal life before this begins to erode. The film builds momentum slowly but effectively, taking time for the narrative to develop rather than offering a series of set pieces.

Setting up protagonist Matthew as a health inspector is a wise move by Richter. It allows for scientific explanation to be brought into play in a plausible fashion. Similarly, the vein of paranoia and the uncanny that was so successful in the original film is utilised well here. The sense of isolation and distrust is exemplified by the anonymity of the big city.

Michael Chapman’s cinematography is excellent. The familiar is made uncomfortable in both the theme and visuals. Make up and effects are also good for the time. Invasion of the Body Snatchers features an enviable cast. Donald Sutherland offers a solid performance as Matthew, while Brooke Adams is believable as Elizabeth. Jeff Goldblum shows the beginnings of traits that viewers have come to expect from him.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a competent remake that combines science fiction with horror to create an unnerving experience.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is released on Blu-Ray from Monday 18th November 2013.