This was the third official version of the film so far (Kidman and Craig’s version being the fourth), updated to modern day and set in a US army base. Gone is the paranoia of the 70s version, replace by a gritty end of the century gloom. The whole film is set up for tension and the sense of being surrounded with little chance for escape. It is very short, adding to this quality and giving a sense of urgency few recent films have been able to match.
A family moves to a military camp as the father has to run some scientific tests in the area. His new wife and son come too along with his daughter Marti from a previous relationship, setting up an ‘evil step-mum’ dynamic. Marti is 17 and feels estranged from everyone, imprisoned, and believes she will soon be free of it all when she turns 18. Her father does his tests, under strict supervision from armed guards, her brother finds his new classmates and teacher to be a little odd, and she makes a few friends- the first being the daughter of the Base General, the other a soldier. Soon a plot to replace the human race with alien clones is uncovered. It becomes a race for the family and their friends to escape and warn the world, but who is human and who is not?
Ferarra creates a great deal of tension in a short time, and excellent performances from all, particularly Anwar and Tilly help to add to the fear. We do not know who to trust, and the film differs enough from previous versions to keep us guessing. Whitaker’s performance is also very good, an accurate depiction of a soldier succumbing to sleep-depravation, paranoia, and the terror of being ‘replaced’. Tilly’s ‘where you gonna go’ scene is terrifying, and some of the effects are very effective. There is little humour, and few signs of emotion all adding to the idea that people may not be what they seem, though giving the film a very cold, bleak tone. We are left feeling that many people may already be emotionless, not caring for each other. A vastly underrated movie, almost as good as its predecessors.
The DVD is cheap, so it is a must-have for fans, but there isn’t an extra feature to be found so it’s another sad case of missed opportunities.
Feel free to comment on the movie- how do you feel this compares with the 2 earlier versions and the later Kidman interpretation?