The Invasion (2007)

Do not trust anyone. Do not show emotion. Do not fall asleep

Writer: Dave Kajganich
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Why would you remake an established classic like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956)? Well, one reason would be to bring it up to date and make it more relevant to people in the 21st century. That’s what the 1978 version did – brought it up to date without changing too much.

The Invasion certainly brings things up to date with technology such as the space shuttle, DNA analysis and text messaging playing an important part. Unfortunately it also tries to make the canvas for the story “bigger” and more exciting, even the title being reduced to a snappier form. In doing so The Invasion totally loses the sense of claustrophobic paranoia that made the original so successful. It also perpetrates the cardinal crime of modern Hollywood: adding to the story a cute kid.

And I think you can guess what they did to the ending.

The Invasion begins with a flash forward – although with no indication that this is what we’re seeing, one of several examples of confusing editing. Then back to the present day and the space shuttle breaking up on re-entry. As it does so it scatters across the US some form of biological space contamination. This, it turns out, is a microscopic life form that invades human cell structure (not animal or bird) and converts the DNA into something else. The aliens are thus genuinely taking over human bodies rather than replacing them. Putting aside the dodgy science, this is an interesting idea since Bodysnatchers always had a lot in common with the zombie genre.Unfortunately it also means the loss of the iconic “pods”, but I could live with that if it were the only problem.

It’s not.

Where it all goes wrong is the attempt to increase the scale of the story and thus, presumably, its impact. The Invasion is a global happening and the on-screen action takes place in bustling metropolis Washington DC complete with foreign ambassadors.

This relocation totally misses the point. What made the 1956 movie so scary was precisely that it was happening in an isolated small town – that it could be happening somewhere now and could spread here tomorrow. The US today longer has the McCarthy era paranoia about Communist fifth columnists infiltrating the country, however the fear of a creeping social cancer of some form is always there. “Upsizing” the story simply makes it less personal, more “in your face” and hence less scary. Not even Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig can make us care.

The Invasion might still have worked had the script and direction been top notch. Unfortunately both are a bit of a mess, never quite sure what mood they’re aiming for and jumping around both storyline and style. The few nods to scenes in the original simply remind us how bad this version really is.

A pointless waste of film.