[Blu-ray Review] 'Snatchers' is a Surprisingly Gory Teen Horror Comedy that Snatches the Hearts of Practical FX Monster Lovers
You should never judge a book, or a film, by its cover. But if someone goes to bed one night, not pregnant, and wakes up the next morning nine months with child, you should absolutely freak the fuck out over that…
*Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the Blu-ray we reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own*
…Warner Bros. Snatchers may appear to be just another basic teen horror comedy on the surface, but as the film teaches us, what’s on the inside always has the potential to surprise, and in this case, explode your head into a pile of bloody mush. Directed by Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman and written by Cedars, Kleiman and Scott Yacyshyn, Snatchers follows Sara (Mary Nepi), a virgin who only cares about being popular, and decides to get down with dimwitted hottie, Skyler (Austin Fryberger), in order to erase her virgin status. But after Skyler fails to pull out, Sara wakes up the next morning to find she’s nine months pregnant with an alien monster hellbent on destroying the world, leaving it up to her and her used-to-be-best friend and resident “nerd” Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse), to stop it.
I said not to judge a movie by its cover/poster, and that’s because Snatchers looks and plays like the Disney channel version of Superbad…at first. The film opens in class with Sara, who at first seems like a dorky badass when she reveals that she plays Magic the Gathering (shut up, it’s a fun game), but then immediately undercuts that by making fun of Hayley to look cool in front of her gaggle of prom-queen wannabe friends. Bring on the teen angst! It’s a key problem with Snatchers, because this isn’t just Sara trying to maintain her mean girl aura. This is her.
Unlike the aforementioned Superbad, Sara and Hayley are no longer friends, and it’s because Sara has decided to pretend not to be the dork that she is, and replace D&D nights with cutting down anyone and everyone in her life like the evil witch from Hell that she is. She lies to her mom, Kate (J.J. Nolan). She’s incredibly shallow. And after some awkward loving with Skyler (in which he hilariously screams ow ow ow while finishing), she runs to Hayley of all people for help, who for some reason decides to help her, and then proceeds to spend the next ninety minutes insulting Hayley.
Snatchers is a lose your brain sort of entertaining film, and both Nepi and Elyse have a fantastic chemistry that makes the characters a joy to watch together, but it’s hard to get behind a heroine without many redeeming qualities, through no fault of Nepi’s, who is a wonderful physical comedy actress. Had Snatchers been about the quirky, funny, painfully good-hearted Hayley, the audience would have someone we’d love to root for. Not the case here.
But that’s fine, because Snatchers has other elements going for it that somewhat make up for a protagonist we could care less about. You can’t let the first fifteen minutes fool you. The film does have that teeny-bopper vibe (minus laugh out loud language like “vag cannon”), and the average “spooky-fun sci-fi mystery” score gives the film that corny, Sunday afternoon watch feeling, but Snatchers is a raunchy riot, with some ridiculously applause-worthy creatures.
Once Sara and Hayley head to an abortion clinic as a first measure to figure out what the hell is going on, the film does a complete 180 and births a bloody creature feature that fans of 80s monster movies will appreciate, ala the exploding head of a doctor who gets a little too close to Sara’s, erm, “cannon”. Blood splatters. Brain bits fly. And it sets the stage for a surprising amount of gore and practical creature effects that set Snatchers apart from your typical teen horror fare.
As the filmmakers discuss on the film’s commentary, all three clearly love old-fashioned monster movies, and put a painstaking amount of work into trying to make sure that there is some element of practical effects included in every creature shot. Said creature happens to be a tiny, brain-manipulating monster that sits atop the head of its victims and controls them like a marionette puppet. The thing is incredibly fast and bounces around tight spaces like a scaly pinball. It’s a bit goofy, but hearing the filmmakers discuss how excited they got over giving the creature puppet a variety of expressions is another example of why this film is as fun as it is. Snatchers is full of monster-loving passion.
Oh, and there are other hugely impressive creatures, emphasis on the huge. And actual monster-on-monster loving. And it’s pretty amazing. So that’s another win.
Like the obnoxious dialogue of many of the film’s characters, such as “supes”, Snatchers moves at a no-time-to-slow-down speed, leaving little room for character development, especially Sara, who never really becomes that much less of an asshole. It’s a bit alien-horror-lite tonally, but the combination of gore, humor, and a hilarious use of blenders make Snatchers a horror comedy that comes out of nowhere, and deserves a peek.
As for the special features on the disc, the “Making Of” is a revealing behind the scenes look at the film that gives viewers a fun look at the creature effects, showing off the extensive work done on the puppets that gives them that in-camera presence that pure digital effects never could. The commentary with Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman and Scott Yacyshyn is also extremely informative, dropping details like the fact that many of the film’s primary locations were shot in a building about to be demolished, as well as how they got an early vomit scene to look so real. Yum. Like the film itself, the filmmakers’ jokes don’t always land and might make the commentary a bit difficult to get through if you’re not about their humor, but these days, I’m just glad to see any blu-ray come with a commentary, which is becoming a lost art.
Snatchers is now available on VOD and Blu-ray, so snatch it up if you’re feeling like a teen angst story in the guise of a quirky, bloody monster movie.
By Matt Konopka