BEFORE: I went back and forth several times this year about what order to watch October's horror films in, basically flipping the whole thing around each time I saw a better way to link in and out of the month. The justification for doing October the other way around was - it would have put this film closer to September, when school starts, and my back-to-school chain ("Pitch Perfect 2", "Breaking Away") was really light this year.
But I'm glad it worked out the way it did, because (in general) I got the sillier stuff out of the way first, and as October 31 approaches, I've got the scarier stuff closest to the date in question. I'll end the chain with two more alien invasion films, though I wasn't able to get to "The Fifth Wave" and the recent "Independence Day" sequel. I wasn't able to squeeze in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" either, because I think the Starz channel is going to premiere it really close to Halloween, too late for me to watch it. Hey, there's always next year.
Edward Norton from "Red Dragon" links to Salma Hayek (last heard in "The Prophet") through a couple of films, including "Frida" and "Sausage Party", which is another film I probably won't have time for this year.
THE PLOT: Students suspect that their teachers are aliens after bizarre occurrences.
AFTER: If you remember the film "Cocoon", it was set in a retirement home because the aliens needed to use the swimming pool as a place to store their pods, and this set up a regenerative effect for the old people who went swimming there. But those were benevolent aliens, and when you're dealing with the kind who want to take over the world, a high-school seems like such a better place to start. A high school would also have a swimming pool, plus there's already a power heirarchy in place (not to mention the clique system), where the teachers have command of the students, and they can ask the kids to report to the office in alphabetical order - for assimilation! Also, if you're talking about the type of aliens that take over human bodies, who wants a bunch of flabby senior citizens with arthritis and gout, when they could be taking over young, fit, hormonal teenagers?
Plus, high school is also a weird place, where everyone is awkward and trying desperately to fit in, but they remain hopelessly unsure of themselves. And those are just the teachers. Come to think of it, most of the students are probably like that too. And the aliens come along and offer conformity and happiness and a grander sense of purpose and wait, what was the down side again? No more cramming for exams, no more being beat up by bullies, no more P.E. class unless you enjoy it - yeah, I'm really struggling here to see how regular high school, without the aliens in control, is a better system.
Nevertheless, a few rebellious outsider teens buck the system here, and decide to fight off the alien invasion, before it's too late. (Kids today, what are you gonna do with them? In my day, we would have welcomed our new alien overlords...) But first they have to make sure that their suspicions are correct, then get out of the school and plan the proper attack. Wouldn't you know, one of the kids deals drugs on the side, and one of his drugs just HAPPENS to have an effect on the aliens. What was that I was saying yesterday about plot shortcuts? No no, there's no need to try multiple chemical compounds to devise the proper antidote for alien chemistry, by all means, go with what you have.
This sends out a weird message to the teens at home, counter to the usual "Just Say No" messages - here the kids HAVE to take the drugs, to prove that they're human. OK, but just this once - it's hard to fend off alien attacks if you're also tweaking or going through withdrawal symptoms. But we've seen this sort of "Which one is really an alien" plot points before, in films like "The Thing" and the first "Alien" movie. Is it really original at all just to repurpose that tension in the high school setting?
Which is my way of noting that this film has its share of those "Oh, snap!" moments - the gross-out sort of shocks and the surprise reveals, some that you may see coming and others that you probably won't. And that itself is sort of high praise for a horror film - but I guess since I don't really watch the more disturbing slasher films, any shock at this point is a good one.
(SPOILER ALERT, stop here if you haven't seen the film before...) But the ending, or rather, the aftermath, amounts to a NITPICK POINT because they stated that any evidence of an alien invasion would have been covered up, but at the same time, tabloid reporters are swarming the school and making one of the students into a national hero of sorts. So, which is it, is there a cover-up or are reporters investigating the scene? You can't really have both of those things, unless it's a failed attempt at a cover-up.
I'm going through all of my old music on cassettes and CDs now, trying to get it all on iTunes in some format so I can listen to more things on my phone. So I can't really buy new music right now, I'm too busy buying OLD stuff, but if I could, I'd really consider getting this soundtrack, with some great late 90's covers of songs like "Changes", "School's Out" and "Another Brick in the Wall". I just started watching the CW show "Frequency", which is a time-travel show partially set in 1996, and it's bumming me out that the music played in the background from that year is consider the "old" music. I also hate when classic rock stations will play grunge or metal music from the 1990's (Pearl Jam, STP, Metallica) and also the stuff from the 1970's, while completely ignoring acts like the Cars and REO Speedwagon. If the 90's stuff is classic now, then by extension you HAVE to accept the 80's music as well, you can't just skip a decade like that.
Also starring Robert Patrick (last seen in "Identity Thief"), Elijah Wood (last seen in "Celeste & Jesse Forever"), Josh Hartnett (last seen in "O"), Clea Duvall (last seen in "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"), Famke Janssen (last seen in "Taken 3"), Bebe Neuwirth (last seen in "Summer of Sam"), Laura Harris, Jordana Brewster, Shawn Hatosy (last seen in "Anywhere But Here"), Jon Stewart (last seen in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"), Usher Raymond (last seen in "Muppets Most Wanted"), Piper Laurie, Christopher McDonald (last seen in "Grumpy Old Men"), Daniel von Bargen (last seen in "Robocop 3"), Danny Masterson (last seen in "Comic Book Villains"), Wiley Wiggins, with a cameo from Harry Knowles.
RATING: 5 out of 10 gym lockers