Alien creatures secretly replacing humans with soulless, emotionless versions of themselves. Sounds like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and a host of imitators, doesn’t it? Well, you wouldn’t be far wrong in calling Assimilate the YouTube version of the body snatchers saga. Director John Murlowski (Black Cadillac, Santa With Muscles) and co-writer Steven Palmer Peterson (Kill Ratio, Skin In The Game) have created a YA variation on a well-worn theme.
Wannabe YouTube stars Zach (Joel Courtney, Super 8, Mercy) and Randy (Calum Worthy, Corporate Animals) are making a web show about their town when they begin to notice strange goings-on. A rash of incidents involving people being bitten by strange creatures. Incidents that are quickly followed by the victim becoming strange, almost robotic beings. The town is quickly being taken over. Zach and Randy along with Kayla (Andi Matichak, Halloween) try to escape while documenting the events.
Despite the plot and description, Assimilate thankfully isn’t a found footage film. It’s conventionally shot and populated with some conventional characters, too. The sinister clergyman Pastor Greg (Terry Dale Parks, Cherokee Creek), a disbelieving sheriff (Byron Hughes), Kayla’s father Larry (Vito Viscuso) who’s become a murderous alien, etc. In fact, several of the film’s most effective sequences involve various cast members dealing with transformed parents.
And, despite its overly familiar premise, Assimilate does have quite a few good moments. A house under siege sequence that was obviously inspired by Night Of The Living Dead. And a scene where two of the survivors try to pass for taken over, much like in the 1978 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. The sound the creatures make is also very similar to the one from that film as well.
Assimilate also benefits from some well shot and atmospheric night scenes, both in town and in the surrounding woods. The scenes of the actual alien creatures are few but well done.
Assimilate doesn’t match up to the 1978 film, or my personal favourite version, Abel Ferrara’s 1993 Body Snatchers. But it is an above average slice of low budget science fiction/horror. There’s enough of a sense of paranoia mixed in with the more obvious scares to give it an edge.
Assimilate is available via Gravitas Ventures.