I spotted the remake of It's Alive at K-Mart, and since it was only five bucks, I thought it would be interesting to see how it compared to the original. The 1974 "killer baby" flick is a sentimental favorite of mine. I'm a big Larry Cohen fan. I knew that he had been trying to get an updated version of his eco-friendly cult classic off of the ground, but I wasn't sure how much of his vision had to be compromised in order to nudge this project past the planning stages (or the first trimester, if you prefer). Well, I watched the revamp last night, and despite his screenwriting credit, I feel safe in assuming that the bulk of Cohen's tidings were siphoned from the script.
The final product does not resemble a Larry Cohen production. The pervasive social commentary of the original has been abridged and boiled down to a single line of dialogue, an obligatory reference to abortion (oooh, how topical). The tension is non-existent. The emotional resonance? Left for dead. We barely know these people. But even if you remove the source material from the equation, this is still a tepid excuse for a horror film. The pace is too hectic. By the 30-minute mark, our expectant mother has already multiplied, and her warped whippersnapper has already stalked his first victim.
1974's It's Alive took its time. The characters were reasonably developed before the b-movie shenanigans kicked into high gear. We understood why Lenore had such a deep connection to her mutant offspring. Here, those maternal bonds are only hinted at in the most ham-fisted ways imaginable. Bijou Phillips turns in a competent performance, although her crying isn't very convincing. James Murray is passable as Frank, but he has absolutely nothing to work with. No one does. The acting isn't the problem. I could put up with theatrical blubbering if I cared about the spooky happenings and the players involved.
The worst thing about this remake is the lazy, laughable CGI. Now, I know that there was enough room in the budget for practical effects, so why settle? It's just a fucking baby. You don't need a computer to craft presentable puppetry. The rest of the film is gorgeous. The cinematography is polished, the Bulgarian scenery is arresting and the editing is sharp. Don't they realize that the pretty packaging is cheapened by ridiculous digital hokum? I'll concede that 2008's It's Alive might be fun to watch with friends. It's certainly not the most offensive remake that I've seen, but I needed an epidural to power through it.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:56 PM