Snatchers is a new horror-comedy film written and directed by Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman. The movie follows a teenage girl who, after having sex with her boyfriend for the first time, wakes up the next morning pregnant with a murderous alien creature. It made its debut at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.
Horror films have for a long time used their stories for didactic purposes, particularly in relation to teen premarital sex. This movie follows in that tradition with a story that is both entertaining and satirical. In terms of story, the film is a bit of a mixed bag, as it is entertaining, but does adhere very closely to the tropes of the sci-fi horror movie. The actual mythology behind the creature is unclear and could have used more explanation, but there are some hints of an interesting premise there if the film is lucky enough to be able to continue its story in a sequel.
One significant problem with the movie is its lack of character development. Very little time is spent developing the personalities of the characters, even the protagonist, beyond the archetypes which they represent. Had the characters been more compelling, it is likely that the film would have been more interesting as a whole. For example, it would have been nice to see more development of the storyline featuring the protagonist and her mother.
In terms of humor, the movie was somewhat hit-or-miss. There is obviously some inherent humor in the premise of the film, but this wears off quickly as the movie starts to move. Towards the end of the film, it does begin to find its comedic rhythm again, only for the movie to end about ten minutes later. As a whole, the film is definitely entertaining, but it would be even more so if it were consistently funny.
The movie leans more towards the sci-fi and comedy elements of the story rather than the horror, and it suffers as a result. Had the film went with a more straightforward horror vibe and attempted to throw some more effective scares into the mix, the movie could have been forgiven of some of its more jarring tonal inconsistencies. As is, the film isn’t funny enough to be a great comedy, nor is it weird enough to be a great sci-fi. It just exists in the area where it is watchable, but not all that impressive.
The actors are definitely one of the best parts of the movie, as they do a solid job of capturing the vibe which the film was intending to capture. Mary Nepi’s lead performance was quite strong, serving as a mixture of scream queen and female action hero in way that is fun to watch. Gabrielle Elyse, who plays the protagonist’s best friend, gives a solid and funny role as the sidekick, even if the character may be too heavily based in cliches.
The movie is also relatively impressive on a technical level. The practical effects for the gore look surprisingly disturbing, especially for an independent film with a relatively low budget. The design of the creature is creepy, but a bit derivative, as it looks a tad too close to a facehugger from the Alien franchise. Furthermore, the cinematography and production design do a good job of creating a juxtaposition between the modern look and retro feel of the movie.
Overall, Snatchers was a solidly entertaining, but not exactly great horror-comedy. Although its premise did show a bit more promise, the end result is still something that most fans will enjoy.
Snatchers debuted at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.