Reviews

SXSW Review: Snatchers

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I’ve seen one horror movie already this SXSW that used the genre to discuss deeper issues, but Us and Snatchers take very different directions in how they do this. That’s pretty evident from the trailer below but it was an interesting contrast to see and I can honestly say I had more fun watching Snatchers than I did Us. That doesn’t make it a better movie, but there’s something both charming, wonderful, and hilarious about the how the film tackles a challenging subject like teen pregnancy without ever making you feel like you’re watching a movie about teen pregnancy.

Also, it’s heavily influenced by Evil Dead 2 so I was pretty much born to like this movie.

Snatchers
Directors: Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman
Rated: R
Release Date: TBD

Snatchers is a weird mashup of comedy, horror, and coming-of-age film that deals with teen pregnancy, except this time the pregnancy is an alien and it’s killing a lot of people in decidedly gory ways. Sara Steinberg (Mary Nepi) is your bog standard (intentionally) teenager trying to fit in with the popular girls at her school and totally ditching her nerdy, old best friend Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse) in the process. Except, when she loses her virginity to her boyfriend, who has just returned from Mexico (bum, bum, bum), so that he won’t break up with her something strange happens. She finds herself 9 months pregnant the next day and the only person she can turn to is her old friend, Hayley. And then the “baby” is born and the blood starts to fly.

And fly it does. Snatchers is a slasher, though and through. Directors Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman mix the best aspects of Sam Raimi and Wes Craven’s old school films to bathe the screen in blood. Yet, the film is never overly bloody. The gore is often off screen or plays more for laughs than horror and it works wonders. There a sequence in a police station, which also deals with where the hell the cops are for this entire time, that is just comedic horror magic. They even have a getting ready for the battle montage that’s straight out of cheesy action movies.

What Snatchers does best is to wear its comedy on its sleeve and yet never lose its center. Like the best horror/comedy blends, it finds fun in the blood and gore. As Sara and Hayley’s night goes from bad to worse the comedy ratchets up right alongside the blood, it’s a great balance that’s been proven a million times to work, but can often go off the rails. Cedars and Kleiman never let it. They know they’ve got a premise that needs to be kept tight and short and do so. The film never overstays itself and moves on from one place to another with aplomb so you’re never bored. 

Yet, at the same time, there is a somewhat serious undercurrent to the movie that plays with the girl’s fears of teen pregnancy. The absurdity takes everything to the nth level, but the underlying emotions are basically the same to the panic, fear, and societal shame a young woman faces when dealing with an unplanned teen pregnancy. There’s even a hilarious bit of overplayed confrontation between Sara and her mom when she finds out she’s pregnant but won’t believe it is with an alien creature. It’s the kind of hyperbole that makes horror so good as an easy access point to address complex issues.

Snatchers never takes itself too seriously, though. It is, after all, just a bit of fun at the movies. And that isn’t actually that easy to pull off. It helps that the two stars of the film play off each other like actual old friends and seem to enjoy being in the roles as they’re doused in blood and gore and found in some… compromising positions. Snatchers is the kind of horror that is what it is and doesn’t want to be anything more, and yet in that it becomes a bit more. 

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.