starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, hit theaters, spinning a tale of a
world in which an epidemic strips everyday people of their emotions, creating fear in the hearts of the ininfected. Time will tell if The Invasion is remembered as a movie that
captured something about the way we live in the 2000s (though with its 21
percent Tomatometer score, that seems unlikely), but one thing is for certain:
It’s the latest in a long line of films that attempt to grapple with our
collective anxiety in uncertain times.
Perhaps, in this age of domestic spying and alleged sleeper cells, we’re more
anxious than ever. If nothing else, filmmakers have certainly found much to mine
from our collective angst; in 2007 alone, such varied films as
The Bourne Ultimatum,
The Lives Of
Others, Red Road,
and Civic Duty
have hit screens. Despite profoundly different settings and methods of
execution, what these films share is a sense of unease, be it in the form of
vast machinations exerting greater control over our lives, or a sneaking
suspicion that someone’s watching.
M is a forerunner to cinema’s most paranoia-minded subgenres (film noir,
serial killer flicks, police procedurals), and certainly
owes a debt to the film; both
percent) and Zodiac
(88 percent) borrow from its bleak, shadowy palette. As Dave Kehr of the Chicago
Reader writes, "The moral issues are complex and deftly handled: Lorre is at
once entirely innocent and absolutely evil. Lang’s detached, modified
expressionist style gives the action a plastic beauty." It’s at 100 percent on
However one reads it, there’s no denying Body Snatchers has proven to be
one of the most durable and influential sci-fi films of the 1950s, inspiring
Shaun of the Dead (90 percent) to
Signs (74 percent). And
it’s at 100 percent on the Tomatometer. "Its title implies that it’s something
you might watch for its campy comic value," writes Audrey Rock-Richardson of The
Tooele Transcript Bulletin, "but it’s flat-out nightmarish.
Caul’s attempt to get at the truth result in a chilling embodiment of the old
adage: "Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone’s not after you."
Featuring hypnotic sound editing from Walter Murch, as well as one of Gene
Hackman’s finest performances, The Conversation "grapples with the moral
issue at stake in a country where technology has outstripped our knowledge of
how to use and control it," writes Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality
and Practice. At 97 percent on the Tomatometer, this "masterpiece of modern-day
paranoia is far more than a simple rehashing of a classic slice of cinema. It
proves to be more prescient now than ever," says Shannon J. Harvey of
Australia’s Sunday Times.
These movies are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Whenever there’s a
collective unease, someone will make a film like
Panic in the
Streets (92 percent),
Manchurian Candidate (100 percent), or
V for Vendetta
(72 percent) that taps into our sense of fear.