Friday, May 29, 2020

BFF ’20: Snatchers

If soulless alien body-snatchers invaded ultra-hip Williamsburg, how could you tell? The brain-controlled drones would probably be less conformist than they are now. Todecky is the exception. He fondly remembers the Brooklyn nabe when it was edgy and gritty, but he will still fight to save the trendy enclave from extraterrestrial parasites in John Kingman’s Snatchers, which screens (virtually) as part of the (online) 2020 Brooklyn Film Festival.

Todecky is a Fed, but not for the FBI. He currently serves as an investigator for the FDA, but his heart and wardrobe are old school Bureau, all the way. Obviously, he does not fit in with the scenesters, including Brie, a supposedly aspiring documentarian, who once interviewed him for an aborted GMO doc. Now she claims to be working “undercover” as janitorial staff at a start-up, as part of a project about immigrants that will never happen. She had no contact with Todecky since ghosting him, but the two will be thrown together when mutant alien corn infects the local food truck circuit.

The corn in question came from fields cultivated by Mennonite farmers like Jeb. He could tell there was something wrong about those ears, harvested after a meteorite crashed nearby, so he returned to big sinful city to track them down. Todecky doesn’t want to hear his alien talk, but they still join forces, along with Brie and the two proprietors of a food truck that exclusively caters to fellow food truck employees.

Snatchers is a very funny send-up of Brooklyn hipster pretensions and body-snatcher genre conventions. Screenwriter Guy Patton must know the scene well to land so many direct hits, but he still has enough emotional distance to show no mercy. This is about as close as a freshly produced film is likely to come to politically incorrect spirit of vintage Mel Brooks. There is also a little bit of gross-out humor, but eye-popping practical effects were clearly not a priority.

Regardless, Blaine Kneece scores big and consistent laughs as the cynical yet earnest Todecky. It is a terrific, breakout turn that ought to take several levels up in industry visibility. As Brie, Brielle Cotelo is a worthy sarcastic-romantic foil, while Jason Kellerman plays Jeb with the right innocent likability to make the “Amish Paradise”-style gags feel like we’re laughing with Mennonites rather than at them.

Snatchers is probably the best genre comedy since Extra Ordinary. It is also probably the slyest, most honest depiction of Brooklyn on film since who knows what? Frankly, the BKLN-set giallo-slasher spoof Psychotic! should have been more like this. Very highly recommended for genre fans and pre-hipster borough residents, Snatchers screens virtually (for free) during this year’s Brooklyn Film Festival (5/29-6/7).