How many of us can say we had the perfect high school experience? I know I can’t. Between the pimples, social pressure, cliques, and don’t forget the raging hormones. It was a living hell, but at least I never had to give birth to an ancient horny alien body-snatcher hell-bent on destroying the world.
Snatchers, written by Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, & Scott Yacyshyn, and directed by Cedars & Kleiman, is a horror-comedy film about friendship, self-worth, and aliens that feels like the perfect amalgamation of Mean Girls, Gremlins, Alien, and Shaun of the Dead. The film made it’s feature-length premiere at South By South West this year, and it did not disappoint the horror comedy nerd in me.
High school junior Sara (Mary Nepi), is one of the popular kids. She’s in the right clique, says the right things, but just like a typical teenage comedy fashion, is terrified of losing her status. However, she feels her social status will be secured if she manages to get back together with her ex-boyfriend, the embodiment of every annoying jerk you’ve ever met, Skyler (Austin Fryberger). As the movie goes on you realize that Skyler isn’t behaving like some average horny teenage boy. In fact, it seems something is very different about him since he returned from his summer trip to Mexico.
With Skylar making it clear that sex, or lack of, was the reason they broke up, Sara decides to give into the pressure and has sex for the first time. But, of course, Skyler doesn’t have a condom, and they opt to proceed without using any protection and rely on the pull out method instead. As the cliched high school health teacher phrase goes, “It only takes one time.”
That phrase rings true for Sara. Now, 24 hours after having sex for the first time, Sara wakes up to find that she’s a full nine months pregnant with what can only be assumed to be an alien baby! Desperate to keep her secret from her loving mom and protect her social status, Sara turns to the only person she can trust: Haley, (Gabrielle Elyse) her nerdy ex-best friend that she ghosted sophomore to become one of the “cool kids.” The girls soon learn that the bun in Sara’s oven is much more than meets the eye and that she’s given birth to an ancient extraterrestrial threat that could be the end for all humanity. So now they must join forces to exterminate the alien threat and save the world from certain doom.
One thing I enjoyed about this movie was how the creators handle the theme of “gaslighting” in relationships. This is something that not only a teenage girl can relate to, but adults in the audience too. Gaslighting, if you’re unaware, is when someone manipulates another person by psychological means into questioning their sanity.
We see this in a scene where Sara is asking Skyler to tell her the truth about his trip to Mexico. Instead of being honest Skyler decided to get angry at Sara for doubting him, accuses her of acting crazy and overreacting. This causes Sara to question herself and start thinking that maybe she is exaggerating. This scene is textbook gaslighting if I’ve ever seen it. Sara has every right to be upset and overreact because she’s pregnant with a killer alien and it is all Skyler’s fault.
Another thing I loved about this film was the way it portrays supportive relationships. We learn early on that Sara and Hayley used to be best friends until their sophomore year when Sara ditched her. However, when it comes down to it, Hayley is Sara’s only real friend. Hayley was the first person she confided her secret to and while Hayley didn’t want to be involved, she still is because she is a beacon of support for Sara in her time of need.
I also appreciated that Hayley is the voice of reason that continually pushes for Sara to confront and hold Skyler accountable for being the direct cause of predicament. Instead of making excuses because she’s afraid she might make him upset and lose him. Hayley also moves the story along by making the most logical choices of the film, especially when Sara can’t.
Lastly, I enjoyed was seeing Sara’s character development and empowerment. Throughout several nightmarish hours and giving birth to a murderous alien, Sara goes through some significant growth and re-evaluates priorities. She learns that there’s more to life a high school social status and that she should have cherished her relationship with her mom and Hayley, instead of shutting them out and pushing them away for popularity. By the end of the movie, Sara has admitted her wrongdoings toward Hayley, mended their friendship, and is a badass alien-hunter that could care less of what her high school peers think of her.
Overall, Snatchers is a story about a girl finding self-worth, mending broken relationships, and female empowerment through the process of killing horny murderous aliens. As a person that was raised on movies like Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gremlins, and Mean Girls this film is the perfect lovechild of all the things that I love about horror and comedy. Snatchers is a combination of suspense, raunchy comedy, and tasteful dash gorey horror, all while also being poignant metaphor for teenage pregnancy.
Snatchers is available to buy and rent on VOD.
Check out LaNeysha’s SXSW podcast interview with the Snatchers creators here.
Snatchers is a story about a girl finding self-worth, mending broken relationships, and female empowerment through the process of killing horny murderous aliens. As a person that was raised on movies like Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gremlins, and Mean Girls this film is the perfect lovechild of all the things that I love about horror and comedy. Snatchers is a combination of suspense, raunchy comedy, and tasteful dash gorey horror, all while also being poignant metaphor for teenage pregnancy.