2019 is shaping up to be one hell of a year for comedic horror films with the likes of Little Monsters and Boyz in the Wood already delivering big laughs and bloody thrills on the festival circuit. It’s a tough sub-genre typically as the films need to be legitimately funny while also ramping up the gooier, gorier, and/or spookier genre elements, but now a third has entered the fray with equal success. Snatchers is a gut-buster in more ways than one as a spontaneously pregnant teen gives birth to big laughs, messy deaths, and a cautionary tale about not sleeping with dicks.
Pregnancy can be scary, but most women have up to nine months or so to grow accustomed to the bodily changes and the realization that something is living inside them. Sara (Mary Nepi) doesn’t quite have the same experience with her own blessed event. She finally has sex for the first time in her life, and just a day or two later she has a bowling ball-sized stomach and a new life-form within. It gets worse, though, when a visit to the doctor leaves the physician decapitated by her projectile baby. Now scared, worried that her belly has more surprises in store, and still a little pissed off at her on again/off again boyfriend Skyler (Austin Fryberger), Sara finds a reluctant friend in her ex-best friend Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse), and together they set out to stop the monstrous invasion emanating from her uterus.
Perhaps fitting for a movie about the results of unlikely sexual shenanigans, Snatchers feels at times like the unholy and hilarious love child of Mean Girls, It’s Alive, Juno, and Slither as a status-focused teen is forced to confront the reality of icky creatures, monstrous mind control, and the biological unfairness of mammalian pregnancy. Sara’s life is already hell thanks to bitchy classmates and a boyfriend whose pushiness about sex has landed her in a world of trouble, but this latest turn is a ferocious fetus too far. Well, for her… for the rest of us the result is pure comedic bliss with whip-smart dialogue and visual gags both hilarious and gory.
Directors Stephen Cedars & Benji Kleiman (who both also co-wrote the film with Scott Yacyshyn) keep things moving with infectious energy as we’re introduced to Sara’s high school life before saddling her with the grown-up reality of sexual consequences. The warning signs are all there, but who’s reading those when there are hormonal impulses demanding attention? Consider the film a wake up (screaming) call for teenage girls thinking about giving in to their boyfriend’s needling about sex, but more than that it also serves as a pretty kick-ass reminder about the importance of friendship and the unbeatable strength of girl power.
That Sara and Hayley’s reconnected friendship lands as sweetly as it does is due equally to the filmmakers and to both Nepi and Elyse who deliver pitch-perfect performances amid the zombified townspeople, teenage antics, and “vag-cannon” artillery. The two bounce beautifully off each other as they move from verbal sparring to endearing embrace, and while the full details of their situation are well removed from reality the core truth remains just beneath the blood-encrusted surface. The adults are no help and the irresponsible dick is even less so, and that leaves the two girls alone to fight their way through this mess and face down whatever comes spilling, slipping, and screaming out of her already weary vagina. Turns out they’re more than up to the task.
The supporting cast is equally ready with the laughs starting with Fryberger’s (barely) exaggerated teen whose obsession with sex gets turned up to eleven courtesy of a creepy crawly he picked up in Mexico. (That last detail leads to a recurring xenophobia gag that deserves its own applause.) J.J. Nolan brings Sara’s shocked and disappointed mother to life, while Nick Gomez and Rich Fulcher deliver with clueless men whose efforts to help are well-intentioned but that ultimately pale beside what the girls are capable of. Gomez plays a police officer who sees his small-town force go toe to toe with the threat in a scene straight out of The Terminator, but as deadly as all of it gets the laughs keep coming. You know, just like motherhood.
Snatchers is far funnier than most unintended pregnancies and an experience you’ll want to enjoy more than once.