The Changed: Sci-Fi Thriller Doesn’t Do Much To Change Up a Familiar Premise

Based on Jack Finney’s 1954 science fiction novel, The Body Snatchers, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is classic of 70s sci-fi and horror. Its paranoia-laden premise is one easily adapted to a number of contexts and time periods – its relevance never wanes. Not surprisingly then, Finney’s story has been adapted in some form or another several times over. Body Snatchers, The Arrival, The Puppet Masters, The Faculty, The Invasion, and even The Thing – they all share a common thread whether directly adapted from Finney’s work or not. Now The Changed – a small budget indie thriller – looks to put another spin on the familiar story.

Synopsis

Something is wrong. And Mac knows it. His wife, Sara, can sense it, too. And high school student, Kim, sees a change in her peers. People are acting different – they’re not themselves. But it’s too late. As Mac, Sara, and Kim lock themselves in a suburban house, they watch and listen with horror as an unseen force takes control of the populace.

The Changed Saps Out The Suspense and Personality From Its Personality

At the very least, The Changed drops you right into the story and jaunts quickly to its conclusion. Director Michael Mongillo wastes little time with table-setting across the movie’s 78 minutes. Still it’s a creative decision that is something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, The Changed is a straightforward interpretation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As such, it hardly needs much in the way of introductions. Yet it’s a choice that saps most of the suspense from the premise. And there’s very little suspense or tension here. We don’t know characters before they ‘change’; there is no attempt to hide ‘the changed’. Simply put, the paranoia characteristic of the concept is missing.

… The Changed is a straightforward interpretation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Even with such a short runtime and leap straight into the story, The Changed feels dull. Horror has been built on a DIY inventiveness that has negated the need for big budgets. And The Changed is most certainly a micro-budgeted movie. But Mongillo doesn’t show much inventiveness, which only sucks more suspense out of the thriller. Most camera shots feel static. The few scenes that involve some action are poorly staged. In addition, we’re also treated to multiple shots of characters running in the backyard of the suburban house. This is what passes for scares and suspense.

The Changed Has a Game Tony Todd … And Not Much Else

If there’s a highlight in The Changed, Tony Todd’s (Candyman, Hell Fest) presence is something of a coup for the indie thriller. A charismatic performer and genre regular, Todd makes the clunky, repetitive dialogue almost ominous. Anytime he’s screen the movie feels link it’s inching in the right direction. In addition to Todd’s game performance, Clare Foley (Sinister, Gotham) is frequently better than the movie. Neither Todd nor Foley can elevate The Changed enough to make it a good movie. And the other performances are pretty wooden.

Count how many times a character repeats the word, ‘changed’.

Count how many times a character repeats the word, ‘changed’. “Everyone has … changed“. Or “I’ve … changed“. How about, “Have you … changed“? If it were a drinking game, you wouldn’t make it to the end of the movie. Yes, a big problem that quickly rears its head in The Changed is Mongillo and Matt Giannini’s screenplay. Similar the to thriller’s execution of its premise, the dialogue here is clumsy and awkward. Most conversations in the movie feel unnatural, often leaning towards bits of exposition or blunt statements of fact. We also know almost nothing about the movie’s characters, thus making it hard to care about their fates. Its biggest twist is the manner through which the unseen force is transmitted – through a kiss. Maybe it has something to do with viruses and pandemics. But that feels like a big stretch.

The Changes Has Nothing To Say With Its Malleable Premise

Some critics have had good things to say about The Changed, though it’s had to see why. Arguably, the best that can be said is that it’s a quick sprint of a movie with a chilling Tony Todd performance. Otherwise The Changed is an uninventive update of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with nothing new on its mind. The lack of tension or suspense, clunky dialogue, and mostly stiff performances exacerbate this mishandling of the premise. Maybe some audiences will see some contemporary relevance but it feels like a stretch.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: D

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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