It seems like every couple of decades, we get an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers movie.
The brilliant original, of course, was pure Communist paranoia, the 1978 Donald Sutherland-starring remake was a gloomier and scarier take on the whole thing and Abel Ferrara's 1993 attempt, Body Snatchers, was... not quite as good but still surprisingly worthy.
Set on an army base this time, we follow a doctor and his family as they move in next to the base for the Summer while the father checks out a supposed toxic spill in the water nearby. Very quickly, it's quite clear that something dodgy's going on with the people living around the base and the army guys themselves. You've got Forest Whitaker's Major, who doesn't seem to buy that this is just a toxic spill and certain people walking around like zombies acting completely out of character. The film starts off slow with Gabrielle Anwar's character meeting new people and the family adjusting to this change of setting. Then, we see a bunch of soldiers go into the water, pick up a bunch of pods and dumping them into vans before driving away towards the town and, slowly but surely, all hell breaks loose. You've guessed it: whenever people fall asleep, these gross tentacled pods suck the life out of them and replace them with soulless doubles. This leads to some actually pretty creepy moments like when a little kid walks into his mother's bedroom to find her face caving in and another, scarier (and more naked) version of his mother showing up unexpectedly looking like a T-1000. It's the same old story but it's still tense and the basic but well used practical effects add some welcome gross-out moments.
This Body Snatchers is very much a smaller version than all the other attempts at telling this story in that the threat is very much limited to this one army base for the entirety of the film, even if right at the end we get a short glimpse at the global repercussions of this event. The idea of setting it in a base is a good one in that it shows that those alien pod people are much more purposely strategic than in the past where they just kinda showed up everywhere quietly. The film makes good use of the best aspects of both the 50's version and 70's version of that story: you've got the paranoia well and truly there and all these pod people have that terrifying scream which was made famous at the end of that 1978 film. Abel Ferrara's flick is also good looking and he sets up that unsettling atmosphere brilliantly. In lesser hands, this movie could have easily been a complete failure but Ferrara makes it look slicker and feel creepier than you would have expected it to. The film may take some time to get going but when it does, it's pretty nail-biting and completely enjoyable. The ending, however, feels a little anti-climactic and the movie kinda ends just as you're really getting into it. This could have easily been 2 hours long and escalated to a more epic denouement and it would have worked even better. A lack of budget, that said, probably made it impossible to go beyond what was displayed in the film.
Overall, while this is in no way better than the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers movies that came before it, it's still an entertaining, tense, at times unsettling little film with some strong images and some genuinely unnerving moments. Not amazing then but definitely worth a watch if you're a fan of that story.
Hell, at least it beats The Invasion!