Alien invasion movies can get pretty dark. One needn’t look further than the likes of A Quiet Place, or War of the Worlds, or Signs, or any hundreds of other films that play on humankind’s fear of the other and otherworldly beings. In these films, humans are the unmistakable underdogs, and great efforts are made to have the audience root for our fellow Homo sapiens to overcome vastly technologically superior enemies and emerge triumphant, our home world intact. But it’s never without sacrifice.
Not too many films show you the invasion from the alien’s perspective though, and fewer still are able to give moviegoers a chance to really empathize with extraterrestrial invaders in an authentically hopeful way. Writer and director Zach Clark’s latest film, The Becomers, accomplishes just that.
The Becomers Has Both a Gruesome Streak and a Soft Side
The film starts off rather cruel, almost acting like a slasher in its opening minutes. Three bodies fall before the title card is even displayed, one of them a newborn infant literally dropped into a trashcan fire. An alien invader has come to our planet and is stealing bodies, disposing of those whose lives it’s briefly replacing in gruesome ways.
It doesn’t take us long at all to learn that the alien itself is also terrified, lost, and confused. Through narration, we learn that its home planet has been ravaged by a contagion (sound familiar?) and after a long period of quarantines, attempts at a vaccine, and other measures that definitely weren’t at all inspired by the very real last few years (sarcasm), most of its species were forced to evacuate to find new homes.
It’s an equally short amount of time before regular Earth people start to creep us out in far more direct and deliberate ways than anything the alien creature is doing. One of the alien’s early human vessels is nearly assaulted by a motel owner who claims to have a “connection” with her, even after finding out that she had just thrown an infant into a trash can.
The narration continues, and we find out that the main alien protagonist we follow for the majority of the film was separated from its lover, and it yearns to be reunited with them. At night, it searches the streets, emitting a train-like whistle, hoping to hear the same sound in return. Happily, that reunion does take place, and this is where the film’s action (and comedy) really kicks into high gear. We won’t spoil any more of the plot here, and we can guarantee that The Becomers is a film where you truly have no idea what’s going to happen next.
The Film Calls Back to More Hopeful Sci-Fi Fare, Like the Original Star Trek
Oscillating rather effortlessly between fish-out-of-water dark comedy and tender romance, The Becomers is an oddball sci-fi offering that hearkens back to the wide-eyed wonder of Star Trek: The Original Series. Director Zach Clark (who previously directed the great White Reindeer) actually watched the entire original run during the pandemic, and its influence shines through consistently in The Becomers. Make sure to keep an eye on our content for our full interview with the director.
The practical effects will also remind viewers of a simpler time in sci-fi, and there’s a nostalgic element to seeing cardboard and glue type props that will probably really hit home for a lot of people (it certainly did for this reviewer). The alien designs themselves are also very creative, with each creature having distinctive enough characteristics to make them individuals, while still having them look like a fleshed out race. The script also adds enough color throughout the narration that the viewer gets a sense of what their society was like before it crumbled.
The aliens switch bodies often enough, but it always feels like we’re watching the same character. We won’t spoil all the actors whose faces get stolen here, but the majority of the film’s narrative rests on the shoulders of Molly Plunk, and she is just delightful. (You can see more of her in Little Sister, also directed by Zach Clark.) All the characters, whether human or not, are appropriately zany for the environment, and the performances are commendable.
The Becomers Is a Clear Pandemic Movie
What’s impressive about The Becomers is that even next to bug-like aliens who can create acid from their bodies to melt the humans they’ve just taken over, it still feels like humans are the bigger threat here. It’s an interesting twist on the I Am Legend scenario, and this film’s message is just as open to interpretation.
The Becomers makes a point never to actually name the pandemic, but the idea of worldwide upheaval, and the often radical effect it can have on society, is a major focus. Still, it never gets too heavy-handed with any message, as long as viewers can stomach seeing a character wearing a facemask in a public eatery every now and again. We are aware, without irony, that some won’t.
The Becomers had its premiere on Saturday, July 22nd at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec. It was shown again a week later, on Thursday, July 27th. Make sure to watch this space for more information on the film’s wider release.