13th Apr2021

‘Assimilate’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Joel Courtney, Calum Worthy, Andi Matichak, Katherine McNamara, Cam Gigandet, Mason McNulty, Terry Dale Parks, Vito Viscuso, Jennifer Pierce Mathus | Written by John Murlowski, Steven Palmer Peterson | Directed by John Murlowski

The second dictionary entry for assimilate is the most appropriate one for this movie. It says ‘regard as similar, liken’. And in Assimilate we see three friends making a web series about their town discover that their neighbours are being killed and replaced by creatures who are perfect copies of their victims. Seemingly the perfect story for some sci-fi horror.

This relatively low budget affair managed to get a good cast line-up for its lead roles. The three young characters are played by Joel Courtney, maybe best known for his first film role Super 8,; Calum Worthy, who was insanely good in one of my favourite films of the last few years Bodied and since went on to star in the popular show American Vandal; and Andi Matichak, seen a couple of years ago in Halloween and will be featuring in that franchises sequels. They play the three best friends who soon discover something is not quite right in their usually quiet and boring town…

The story isn’t exactly original, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and others since then have done things very similar before but Assimilate at least does things well and executes its ideas nicely. It displays a good amount of creepiness throughout, although horror fans expecting a gory or scary sci-fi movie will be disappointed; the film-makers either didn’t have the budget for that or simply chose not to go that route. The human copies themselves are scary enough – sometimes acting like zombies and giving the movie a bit of a “zombie movie” feel to it.

The production and ‘look’ of tAssimilate is good, with a limited use of CGI. When it is used it looks good, the stretched wide open mouths of the copies being the obvious moments to praise but you do end up feeling like you want to see more of what is happening.

With the web series angle, I thought at first that a lot of the movie might be shot found footage, hand-held camera-style but the use of this is limited and the movie is better for it I think. Not that I’m not interested in a more sci-fi-orientated found footage movie but I have seen plenty of alien invasion attempts.

Like I mentioned earlier, the script isn’t particularly full of surprises but it does the job. At times going a bit too ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ with its cheesiness involving the ‘heroes’ of the film (also including a really forced ‘epic’ score), while the twist ending doesn’t have the impact that I’m sure the writer was going for. That said, I did like that conclusion to Assimilate.

The young cast do their best with Assimilate and make it a mainly entertaining movie. Creepy sci-fi and ones involving aliens aren’t abundant at the moment, so if that’s your thing, you should definitely give Assimilate a watch.

*** 3/5

Assimilate is available digitally in the UK and Ireland now from Blue Finch Releasing.

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