Warning! This post contains spoilers. If you have not seen these films I recommend you watch them before reading on.
I have trouble sleeping.
Ever since I was a young whippersnapper I have lain awake at night, tossing and turning, mulling over imaginary problems occurring in places that do not exist. Unless I have indulged in too much wine or suffered a bout of sustained exercise, I regularly find myself buried beneath my sheets, dawn fast approaching, drowning in endless thought.
Sometimes my mental voyages transport me to the world of Hollywood. Here I become trapped inside tragic motion pictures, taking on the role of a doomed hero, desperately trying to avoid the fate which lies in store for them. Surely with the hindsight of a sleep deprived maniac I can figure out a path that would lead them to safety and me to a night of sound sleep?
But sometimes there is no way out of the maze.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is by far my favourite. The grey emptiness of the urban landscape and ginger bristliness of Sutherland’s moustache are perfect ingredients for a slow, suffocating horror film. It could be speculated that this picture carries metaphor for madness, narcissism and McCarthy-era communist paranoia. It is also an ideal paradigm to solve under your pillow at 4am.
It has now been confirmed that you are not insane and the people you hold dear really have had their identities stolen by emotionless alien forms. You are facing a difficult struggle. By remaining calm and moving silently amongst these clones you can attempt to formulate a plan for escape. The slightest shudder of fear and you will be caught.
You could steal a car, attempt to drive to an un-colonised town and warn them of what is coming. You might search for a cure that would bring your friends back to life. Or you may wish to find a safe place to hide, like the bed you are now sleeping in, just to preserve your freedom for a few more hours. Is that your girlfriend who lies next to you? It looks like her…
The Wicker Man
What is particularly disturbing about this story is the idea that the residents of the island have spent a couple of days just trying to fuck with your head. You are the butt of an obscenely sick joke that everybody is in on. It will not affect the outcome of their sacrificial offering that you have spent two days trying to solve a fictional murder. It was just something to keep them amused before you burn.
However, as you nibble on your bedclothes and unearth dead rabbits from shallow graves, you have a distinct advantage over poor Sergeant Howie. You know what will happen. You can change the future. At least you think you can.
It is around 5am when I am transported to that desolate rock. I usually become conscious of my fate on the morning of the May Day festival. My plane has been sabotaged and I have no means of communication with the civilised world. The only way of escaping the island is by the yacht moored at the harbour. But I have no idea how to sail and a boat of such size can surely not be manned alone. I could hide there and wait, but it would be the first place the heathen savages would look for me.
Instead, I decide the only possibility of gaining control of these creatures is to take hostage their leader, Lord Summerisle. As they search the island for me I manage to sneak up to his house on the hill and hide in the one place they will never think of, tucked up within the sheets of his bed. After a night long search he finally retires to his bedroom, thinking I had perhaps thrown myself off the cliff and drowned in the sea. I hear his hand turn the doorknob and he has no idea that I am in here waiting for him. Or does he?