By DEIRDRE CRIMMINS
Starring Molly Plunk, Mike Lopez, and Russell Mael
Written and Directed by Zach Clark
Yellow Veil Pictures
Whoever said an alien invasion couldn’t be romantic? THE BECOMERS has a solid take on body invasion and the potential loss of humans on Earth, but it does so in the name of love.
The film is led by a dominant voiceover from Sparks frontman Russell Mael. It is through his storytelling we learn that he is an alien who has recently come to earth and hopes to not be separated from his lover for very long. While this might seem a bit too sweet for a typical invasion narrative, much of this is told over images of taking over a human’s body and melting the previous one. Akin to a pod person, that new visage is that of the now dead and dissolved person and the romantic alien can continue on its way to survive on this new planet.
We learn just as much about the previous home planet as we do about this alien’s relationship with their lover. Far from perfect, their relationship has lasted long enough to seek a reunion on new terrestrial spaces.
The rest of the film settles into a certain tempo of getting new bodies, assimilating into their lives, learning how to navigate various American cultural processes, and searching for their lover. There is a hilariously unfortunate plot twist they find while inhabiting the lives of well-to-do suburbanites, and the introduction of this storyline comes at a perfect time to bring more interaction and levity to the film.
There is a good amount of humor in THE BECOMERS, most of it at the expense of the aliens trying to fit into the Earthling’s strange ways. They try their best, but being fish-out-of-water are by far the most compelling bits of the movie.
Where THE BECOMERS falters a bit is the mechanics of the body transformations. It is clear that bodies get dissolved when they are no longer needed, and we do see the technology and process used for the transfer, so there is that. But after taking on a body, it is either adapted to be partially alien, or certain alien parts are somehow brought over from body to body. It is novel to see these alien-human hybrids, but how they come about brings more questions than answers.
At its core, THE BECOMERS is a story of this couple finding each other after being apart. Regardless of the solar system or of their physical form, they know that they are still made for one another and they do not want to go through life apart. Despite a few wooden performances, the affection and love they have comes through across a variety of flesh options.
To craft a science fiction story with body horror elements, that leaves the audience rooting for the alien invaders, at a micro-budget is quite a feat for any filmmaker. Writer/director Zach Clark’s first foray into the genre sandbox shows his chops for telling affectionate interpersonal tales easily extends into alien realms.
THE BECOMERS had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 22nd.