Movie review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 science-fiction horror film directed by Don Siegel and stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter.

Dr. Miles Bennell (McCarthy) shows up at a hospital in pure shock as it seems as though he has evaded something. He recounts his story and the film’s entirety takes place in flashbacks. Bennell narrates what has happened to the people in the town of Santa Mira, California. He has his patients tell him that their relatives aren’t really their relatives and that something is off about them. While he views it as hysteria, he witnesses this himself as a duplicate body of his friend Jack Belicec (King Donovan) is transforming on a billiard table. From there, we see these duplicates rise in number and take over the town.

For its time, this was a very effective film for its scares because of the nods to the Red Scare. People, in the United States, were frightened by the potential of others conforming to communism following the end of the Korean War.

The film also delves into the potential loss of personality because of the changing ideology. While someone will retain all the memories of the past, a person would have no emotion, they wouldn’t feel love or experience the ups-and-downs of everyday life. Everyone would be the same, so this film was really good at frightening U.S. audiences with its anti-communist propaganda.

McCarthy and Wynter are fantastic in the film. They have some amazing chemistry and you feel as though this is a real-life couple. They work really well together and you can sense the dread from them when they realize what happens if their duplicate takes them over.

One of the best aspects this film has going for it is the choreography of numerous people. Toward the end of the film, McCarthy and Wynter look out from a window onto the town square, and you see around 100 people all come together seamlessly as if everyone was the exact same. We get more of this in a fun, drawn-out chase scene as our protagonists run away from the town.

This is a fun film. I don’t really have much of an issue with it. It did its job for the time it came out and we really care about the two main characters as they fight the horror of a town under siege by these new lifeforms consuming and adopting the look of people they love.

Rating: 8.5/10

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