Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Cast: Helen Rogers, Alexandra Turshen, Lauren Molina, Larry Fessenden
Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s new thriller, Body gets so many elements of taut storytelling correct that it actually becomes relatively easy to dislike the film. Confusing statement? I’ll walk you through things, and trust me, you’ll get the gist quite quickly.
Three 20-somethings, Holly, Mel and Cali, are bored over the holidays, looking to get a little wasted and wild. Cali suggests they venture to her uncle’s home, as he’s out of town for Christmas and he’s loaded beyond belief. His not so humble abode is well-stocked with entertainment and liquor and the ladies are guaranteed to have an undisturbed blast. But there are problems in wait, namely the facts that the home we’re discussing doesn’t actually belong to Cali’s uncle (she’s a bold-faced, despicable liar), and the groundskeeper who shows up to investigate the disturbance in the home finds himself at the mercy of three naïve women, one of which is willing to do quite literally anything to avoid a trespassing charge. But the potential charges here escalate beyond trespassing in a hurry. Said groundskeeper, Arthur, is pushed down a flight of stairs as the ladies attempt to flee. He’s left for dead, but he’s still got some life in him and an unfortunate accident leaves everyone struggling with some very, very bleak options.
The writing (Berk and Olsen write as well as direct, for the record) is believable and polished, and that leads to the one thing Body also gets very, very right: character focus. While Arthur is a very crucial piece of the puzzle, it really is Holly, Mel and Cali that we get to know and invest in. When it comes to Holly, we invest hope, when it comes to Mel, we invest a curious uncertainty, and when it comes to Cali – the “hot” one of the bunch (her physical appeal fades the moment she opens her mouth) we invest genuine disdain. She’s just a repugnant individual who really does stand as the catalyst for a serious nightmare. But we can easily get behind Holly, and we’re almost sympathetic to Mel’s true lack of an identity; she’s along for the ride and willing to do anything to fit in. It’s an eclectic group.
Huge praise has to be issued to the three leading ladies of the picture. Whether you’re for or against their characters, all three actresses do an amazing job here. Helen Rogers is excellent as Holly and Lauren Molina sells the role of Mel surprisingly well (I’ve never before seen this young lady, but she has very real potential). The show-stealer however is the inspired Alexandra Turshen, who really brings Cali to life in an unforeseen way. Turshen is passionate as can be and her work as the villainess of Body is shocking while engaging. Make no mistake, we don’t want to see this woman escape her predicament without paying her dues, and that’s because Turshen forces us to briefly forget that we’re watching the actions and reactions of a fictional character. It’s a strong lineup (the legendary Larry Fessenden does a fine job with what he has to work with, although the greatest issue here is that he really doesn’t have much to work with!) that elevates the production from “just another b-movie” to awesome, inspired indie film.
Body is loaded with heart. This is the kind of picture you want to see from young talents like Berk and Olsen, and it does quite a bit to raise the stock of Rogers, Molina and especially Turshen. The picture could potentially fly under the radar, as it is a smaller production that seems to lack major marketing bucks, but those who tune in to see Body are going to get their money’s worth. While not a frontrunner for genre flick of the year, Body is more than worth your time.