Director – Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Cast – Helen Rogers, Alexandra Turshen, Lauren Molina, Larry Fessenden, Adam Cornelius
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Body is a character-driven film where the horror derives from the depravity of the decisions made by the protagonists when faced with a daunting situation. This is a film where you will place yourself in their shoes and imagine what you would do in such a situation. While not as complex, this effort is in the vein of The Invitation and Coherence. I mention that because these types of films tend to be love/hate with viewers. That was mostly the case with me, but this film is unusual in that I both loved and hated it. Body starts off doing everything right, with constant developments and great execution. Sadly, the film’s final sequences ruin what should have been a great experience.
Holly, Cali, and Mel are three young girls celebrating Christmas Eve with a night out. When Cali breaks them into a secluded, seemingly empty mansion for some added adventure, their celebration turns to turmoil when they accidentally kill the groundskeeper. Their friendship is now pushed to the limits as they struggle to come up with a solution to their problem as time is running out.
Dan Berk and Robert Olsen both co-write and co-direct this piece, and I must say they did quite well with their debut flick. This isn’t an original idea, but it doesn’t need to be, so long as the execution is good. They kick things off by setting the tone with the girls deciding to take their celebration out of Mel’s home and onto the open road. Coming in at just under 70 minutes before the credits roll, the flick doesn’t move as fast as I would have expected it to. It never feels rushed and will definitely feel longer than it is. This is related to the loads of character development in the film, which I was appreciative of. From what I have gathered, the writers wanted each of the girls to represent Sigmund Freud’s id, ego, and superego psyche structures. Their reactions to the death of an innocent man will all be different, and that is where the conflict comes into full swing.
Because the girls were not supposed to be there in the first place (Holly and Mel were duped by Cali) the law is not on their side. So, they need to craft a story that portrays them as the victims and the innocent man as the perpetrator. Hopefully, this will lead authorities to overlook their breaking and entering / trespassing. To start, this idea does not sit with everyone. There is at least one party that wants to tell the truth, and there is another doing everything in their power to convince them that the guy is already dead and there is no point in having their own lives ruined over it. Berk and Olsen improve on this by delivering consistent developments that force the girls to edit their plan on several occasions. This all boils up to a finale that is sure to leave some of you, no, most of you, with your stomachs twisted. There are several ways this could have played out, and instead of delivering what you want to see the filmmakers seek to inflame you instead. Some may see this as a good thing, but I don’t. I never really thought I would like a movie for 95% of the runtime and then drop it down several rating points for a moronic ending, but that is the case here. This is mostly personal opinion, and I am sure my opinion will lie with the majority of this one.
Despite my feelings toward the climax, I am curious to see what these to see what these filmmakers produce in the future. Their direction was solid overall, as they kept my interest peaked despite not showing too much. They did film everything in a brash, full-frontal fashion and that includes some hard-to-watch scenes during the end of the second act. The tension felt real and the acting performances were good aside from a supporting character who only appears for about five minutes. With only two locations for the entire flick they managed to create good atmosphere that enveloped me into the situation. With such a short runtime I would assume they had it in their favor to keep things interesting. I am definitely interested in how they would do a standard 90-minute experience.
Overall, Body is an engaging film until its terrible climax ruins the experience. Watch this if you want to hate yourself for not listening to me.