“Body” finds a trio of young women panicking when their pranksome holiday hijinks result in an accidental death — a premise that, while unoriginal, could have resulted in some suspense, narrative twists and macabre humor. But little to none of the above materializes in co-writer/helmers Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s workmanlike but underwhelming feature debut, an uninspired thriller that would barely squeak past an hour’s length without its drawn-out final credits. The presence of cultish horror producer/director Larry Fessenden in the cast should attract some indie genre-pic fans, but they’re unlikely to be impressed. This Slamdance premiere looks set for a quick exit to modest download sales.
College-aged besties Holly (Helen Rogers), Cali (Alexandra Turshen) and Melissa (Lauren Molina) are having a pre-Christmas suburban sleepover at Melissa’s parents’ house. After too much snacking (and pot), party girl Cali insists they go out into the winter night for some fun. It’s her idea that they break into the mansion supposedly owned by her rich uncle. But once they’ve made a minor drunken mess of the place, it turns out she was fibbing, and in their haste to exit, they accidentally send a suspicious groundskeeper (Fessenden) tumbling down a staircase to his apparent death.
Cali immediately begins hatching cover-up schemes, only to realize the poor guy isn’t quite so dead after all — but by then, they’ve incriminated themselves so thoroughly she decides they’d better just kill him. Conflicts among the three protags predictably escalate. But the polished, bland low-budget presentation doesn’t raise much tension, and the script springs no real surprises: Designating glam, selfish blonde Cali as the cause of all grief, it sees little need to add more complexity or depth to the thin stew.
Performances, design and technical aspects are all competent. But “Body” feels like a calling-card feature with no distinguishing message written on the card.
Slamdance Film Review: 'Body'
Reviewed online, San Francisco, Jan. 18, 2015. (In Slamdance Film Festival — competing.) Running time: 74 MIN.
A Last Pictures presentation in association with Smiley Ball Films and Silver Sound. Produced by Dan Berk, Robert Olsen, Chadd Harbold, Bryan Gaynor, Michael W. Gray. Executive producers, Adam Cornelius, Josh Axler, Zach Lasry. Co-producers, Josh Folan, Mary Beth Minthorn, Brennan McVicar, Cory Choy, Robin Shore.
Directed, written by Dan Berk, Robert Olsen. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Matt Mitchell; editor, Bryan Gaynor; music, Luke Allen; production designer, Annie Simeone; costume designer, Megan Stark Evans; sound, Brennan McVicar; supervising sound editor, Cory Choy; re-recording mixer, Robin Shore; assistant director, Michael Meador.
Helen Rogers, Alexandra Turshen, Lauren Molina, Larry Fessenden, Adam Cornelius, Dan Brennan, Kimberly Flynn, Ian Robinson.