Horrortoberfest ’20 Day 30 – Assimilate (2019)


Only two reviews left to do and I think I’m going to go for a mini-theme for these last ones that is best summed up as “something is wrong in my small, boring town.” It’s kind of a weird sub-genre of horror but one that has some distinct characteristics that I find fascinating. Heroes generally have to hate the small town but end up trying to save it, heavy paranoia vibes, themes of blending in versus standing out. If I cared more, I could do a research paper on it but I’m not in academia and nobody is paying me to watch this shit.

Zach and Randy are two best friends living in an isolated, small town with hopes of making a web video series about just how strange small town life can be. Little do they know that life is about to get much stranger. They find their neighbor panicking after having been bitten by something and when they chase after the thing that bit her; they see the local pastor putting in something and driving away. Now the conspiracy deepens and when they go to confront anyone about it, people seem to not be themselves anymore and only Kayla, Zach’s love interest, believes them. It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers but centered around teenagers.

When this started I was really worried that it was going to be entirely in that found footage style because Zach and Randy are going around town filming everything with those little spy cameras. Thankfully, we only get a few scenes at the beginning like that and the rest is standard movie style. The big goal of the heroes is that they need to get their footage out so that they can warn people which is great because a couple teenagers from Podunk, Nowhere uploading a video to YouTube is going to get precisely 0 views and not matter in the least. The teen aspect is used fairly well, at least, since the powerlessness to stop things or be believed is much more standard for young people.

The pacing in this is odd since normally a “body snatchers” scenario is all about the creeping horror of realizing something might be wrong and only taking action when it’s already too late. Here, they discover the body snatching thing after like 25 minutes into an hour and a half long movie. It really pivots into the survival mode for the rest of it as they try to alternately get help or run away from the doubles. It also has some monster movie type vibes because the replacement process is a bunch of little bugs turn into a big bug that bites you to get your DNA and then cocoon’s to make a copy but the copy has to chase you down and steal your memories. It’s…kind of a lot.  You also get a lot of stuff from the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with them having to act emotionless to blend in and the doubles doing an unnatural scream when they get found out.

This take on a body snatcher scenario isn’t terrible but it certainly isn’t the best. For a fun teen romp with not a lot in terms of blood or gore, this could be decent with older kids.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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