The term “star-crossed lovers” takes on a new meaning in The Becomers, the new film from writer-director Zach Clark. The movie, which I saw at Fantasia International Film Festival 2023, is gory and fairly upsetting at times, but at heart is a romance, with very weird comedy thrown in. “Weird” is perhaps the best adjective for the movie, but at no point do you cease to understand the heart at the center of the story—that finding your soulmate transcends bodies, space, and suburban death cults. Usually.
The story follows a pair of aliens from a doomed world who end up on Earth, specifically middle America. In the tradition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, they can only appear in human form if they kill and replicate a living person. So the beginning is pretty gruesome. Everywhere the alien goes and every interaction they have in their new body becomes a sinister experience. Our lead alien narrates the movie, in the voice of Sparks’ lead singer Russell Mael, which adds a particularly strange element.
As we continue on, we learn the alien is looking desperately for its mate. They send a signal out to hopefully find each other again. Though the alien takes on the appearance of several different people throughout the story, the bulk of the time is spent in the body of a suburban housewife (Molly Plunk). In this guise, they piece together from neighbor interactions that the husband (Mike Lopez) might be up to some bad stuff. Worse than killing innocent people to take over their bodies? Maybe.
Part of the fun of The Becomers comes from the aliens having to take on the personas and lives of the people they have overtaken. Plunk’s performance specifically as a worried alien trying not to seem alien is astoundingly good. She has a supremely effective deer-in-the-headlights expression any time she has to speak to a regular human. You can’t help but laugh any time this happens. The escalating wildness of the situations leads to the movie’s best comedic beats.
But at its heart—its surprisingly soft heart—is the story of two lovers looking for each other across the universe, proving they’re stronger together than apart. Clark presents the story as an incidental, though likely intentional, LGBTQ+ allegory. The aliens are in love, regardless of whether they’re in male of female human bodies. It never once becomes an issue for them, and it’s never played for comedy or awkwardness. The exception, of course, is a very purposely gross sex scene utilizing alien physiology while still wrapped in human husks.
I really liked The Becomers and what it has to say about the profoundness of love amid the absurdity of human existence. It’s a tough time for the world. If we can find a person or people to whom we can connect, it’s somehow slightly less bleak. An oddly hopeful message for a movie with so much wanton murder and dissolving body parts.