Year 8, Day 301 - 10/27/16 - Movie #2,479
BEFORE: This is it, the end of my horror chain (for now), so this will stand as the film closest to Halloween. You can probably see how tempting it was to put this one first, and use "Spectre" as the lead-in with Daniel Craig carrying over, but that would have been a mistake. Why? Well, partially there's the connection between Halloween and alien invasions due to Orson Welles' broadcast of "The War of the Worlds", which aired on October 30, 1938. But also, this film is SET on Halloween - in an early scene we see kids trick-or-treating (I spied this while dubbing the film to DVD...) so I've deemed this the most appropriate film for Halloween viewing this year.
So this becomes my horror chain outro film, and it will link to the first film of November, which I'll watch on November 6, so that a war film can land on Veterans Day. Linking from "The Faculty", Elijah Wood voiced a character in "Happy Feet", and so did Nicole Kidman (last seen in "Paddington"). (Alternately, Salma Hayek was also in "Frida" with Roger Rees.)
FOLLOW-UP TO: "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (Movie #1,203)
THE PLOT: As a Washington psychiatrist unearths the origin of an alien epidemic, she also discovers her son might be the only way it can be stopped.
AFTER: The year of the sequels, remakes and reboots continues - by my count, this story has been filmed four times - "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in 1956 and 1978, and "Body Snatchers" in 1993. I guess we were due again for an updated version in 2007, finally people in this story can talk via cell phone and be aware of contagious diseases like Ebola.
What I said last night about aliens being smart by taking over a high school - tonight they're even smarter, and they head straight for the Centers for Disease Control. What better way to hit humanity right where it hurts, than to go for the scientists who are specialists in contagious things? While previous films may have centered on the use of plant-like pods to replicate human bodies, the process here is mostly viral, spread partially by (and I wish I were kidding) waiters vomiting directly into coffee pots at a CDC press conference. Umm, thanks, I'll have tea. It's a good time to try and cut down on coffee intake.
(NOTE: This film could give really bad ideas to terrorists - anyone who wants to attack America could simply start handing out free flu shots at the start of cold season, but inject people with a deadly virus instead. I bet they could infect hundreds of cost-conscious patients before anyone caught on.)
Compared to the previous 1978 version I watched, yeah, this is something of an update, but it also feels like a shortcut. That previous pod process also left a human corpse that needed to be disposed of, but tonight's process is much simpler, the virus merely hijacks the existing body, the alien hive-mind takes over, and the human brain just goes unconscious for the duration. Another shortcut.
And similar to the result in "The Faculty", the resulting creature looks exactly like he or she did before, except now they're more content (allegedly) and more robotic (definitely) and they don't care much for dogs, who can apparently smell that there's something wrong with them. Sorry, Fido, we're going to have to drown you. The lead character's ex-husband (who works for the CDC) returns to Washington after a few years in Atlanta, and takes a sudden interest in his son's life (yeah, that should have been a tip-off right there...) and is acting very politely to his ex-wife (another warning sign) whose patients are also reporting that their spouses are suddenly acting civil and unlike their usual selves.
So this psychiatrist character is in a unique position to observe the changes (shortcut) and has a boyfriend who's a medical expert (another shortcut) and a patient AND a son who might be immune to the alien virus (HUGE shortcut, really, I mean COME ON, what are the chances against this?). But before anyone can fix this situation, they have to get out of Washington by acting like the aliens, in other words, expressionless and robotic - ah, NOW the casting of Nicole Kidman starts to make some sense. The best thing about using a lot of shortcuts, at least in this case, is that it keeps the plot moving - the problem, conflict and resolution all happen here in less than 100 minutes.
Knowing that she's been exposed to the virus, and knowing that the changeover happens during REM sleep, our heroine finds herself holed up in a drug-store after rescuing her son, frantically popping stimulant drugs and drinking Mountain Dew in order to stay awake. Since I usually start my films after midnight, all I can say is, "Welcome to my world, honey." This blog would not be in its 8th year without the magical beverage called Diet Mountain Dew.
How dare these aliens come to our planet and try to destroy the world? Don't they know it's humanity's job to destroy the world? I suppose it's debatable whether there's a political metaphor here, since the aliens claim to be more "in touch" with each other, some may interpret the hive mind as a form of socialism or similarly leftist thinking. But since we're in the middle of a campaign where both sides seem to be made up of zombified voters, I'd say there's a lot of leeway in the political interpretations here. Probably both Democrats and Republicans who are not satisfied with their party's candidate could empathize with the few free-thinkers seen here who are left after the majority of people seem to be working as part of the collective. Still others might favor an alien takeover instead of the election we've got coming up, and the seemingly endless coverage of it.
NITPICK POINT: Maybe things have changed since 2007, and admittedly I'm not an expert on such things as autism, but generally speaking, if a kid's mother saw that he was suddenly acting detached and emotionless, the first natural thought wouldn't be that he was replaced by an alien, it would be "Get this kid some Ritalin." I know that if I saw a kid methodically organizing his Halloween candy without eating it, I'd go straight to the ADHD meds. Unless that was somehow MY kid, in which case, I'd completely understand. Heck, I'd probably jump in and help him organize it.
NITPICK POINT #2: It's doubtful that any office building would allow anyone entering through the parking garage access to an elevator that would take them to the upper floors, because this would be a way to bypass building security on the main floor. It's much more likely that the parking garage elevator would only take them to the building's lobby, where they'd have to pass through some kind of security check.
The final tally for October, discounting the two "non-horror" films: 21 films, including 7 about vampires, 5 appearances of Frankenstein's Monster, 3 of the Wolf Man, 4 films with ghosts, 3 alien invasions, 1 film about serial killers, 3 circus sideshows, but the leader seems to be mad doctors and scientists, appearing in 9 or 10 films, if I count the "Ghostbusters" crew.
Also starring Daniel Craig (last seen in "Spectre"), Jeremy Northam (last seen in "Emma"), Jeffrey Wright (last seen in "Syriana"), Veronica Cartwright (last seen in "Goin' South"), Josef Sommer (last seen in "Nobody's Fool"), Celia Weston (last seen in "Hearts in Atlantis"), Roger Rees (last seen in "Frida"), Jackson Bond, Adam LeFevre (last seen in "Two Weeks Notice"), Joanna Merlin, with a cameo from Malin Akerman (last seen in "CBGB").
RATING: 4 out of 10 space shuttle fragments