Boasting a minuscule budget and a skeleton cast and crew, Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s debut is a beautifully-written thriller that remains gripping throughout, even if it is a little short-lived.
Set almost entirely within the confines of an abandoned mansion, Body sets its sights on something almost criminally simple straight from the offset. And although it seems to execute this incredibly well, one can’t help but feel that the film’s directors are capable of something far more substantial, given the talent they show off here.
The film finds three young women celebrating the arrival of Christmas with a low-key evening of drinks and scrabble. Things escalate dramatically however, when one encourages the others to take the party to her uncle’s empty mansion, where the trio soon find themselves wrapped up in something far more dark and complicated than they had ever anticipated. To say any more would likely constitute as spoilers, but rest assured, there are plenty of twists in place as the night goes on, and nothing is ever quite as predictable as it may at first seem.
In fact, it’s writer/director duo Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s knack for throwing in well-timed narrative curveballs that really keeps Body ticking along well. Although its bare-bones story can obviously only ever have a certain amount of outcomes, and the pair rarely ever flirt with anything outside of the realms of the sensible, the film still somehow remains politely refreshing in the way it unfolds its plotting. It may be straightforward and ultimately nothing new, but it’s still gripping enough to keep you enticed right until the very end.
A large part of what keeps this in place is actually Body’s surprisingly incredible cast. The until-now, relatively unheard of trio of Helen Rogers, Alexandra Turshen and Lauren Molina deliver performances that are both funny and especially believable at every turn. The group’s chemistry is nearly unparalleled, making even just the early scenes of the girls hanging out relentlessly watchable, whilst their more sober, dramatic dealings are equally as effective. Horror legend Larry Fessenden even proves his emotional worth also, with a small, but grounded role that tugs on the film’s inner morality tale beautifully.
Overall, there’s not really an awful lot wrong with Body, but with such a basic central plot that clocks in at an insanely lean 75 minutes, one can’t help but feel that there was plenty more places for the film to go. By playing it safe, Berk and Olsen have crafted a solid thriller that shows off their great potential as filmmakers – but in doing so their film also lacks any real sense of pizzazz.
Body (2015), directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, is released in the UK on DVD by Matchbox Films. Certificate 15. Full details of all of the films showing at Film4 FrightFest can be found here.