Good dialogue is key to a good thriller. You can inject your characters into a horrible situation, but if you don’t care, identify or even despise the characters, there’s no point in following their journey through whatever predicament they’re placed in. Thankfully, Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s film, BODY, not only has completely solid and realistic dialogue, but it’s also one of the best thrillers of the year.
Hanging out on Christmas Eve, friends Holly (Helen Rogers, V/H/S), Cali (Alexandra Turshen) THE LOST GIRLS, PIRANHA SHARKS) and Mel (Lauren Molina, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE) play Scrabble, taunt Mel’s younger brother and smoke out to pass the time. Eventually bored of doing that, Cali has the idea to visit her relatives’ house and once they’re there, they raid the liquor cabinet and have fun, until Holly realizes that the house doesn’t belong to Cali’d relatives, and soon after, an accident involving the house’s groundskeeper puts all three girls into a series of decisions that affect their relationships with each other, and puts their lives in danger.
The key to BODY‘s effectiveness, is how realistic its character are. Each woman is so realized right from the bat, that you’re never finding yourself having problems identifying or relating to them. We’ve all known people like Holly, Cali and Mel and that helps the film bring you as an audience member into their plight. Holly is continuously the one who tries to react to their situation with good reason and a desire to do the right thing. Cali is Holly’s opposite, having put them in the situation that could potentially ruin their lives. She combats Holly’s “Do the right thing” outlook and pushes her two friends into one bad decision after another, slowly losing her footing on what makes a good friend and becoming more about herself and how she can get out it without any trouble. The group’s middle ground is with Mel, who wants to do the right thing, but is afraid of getting arrested or hurt. Once those desires are established, the film turns into a series of tug of war decisions, and with every decision made, the trio are put in jeopardy more than they were. It has a very Hitchcock-like approach to the film, focusing more on the deterioration of the friendship and how quickly people can turn on each other when put in a dangerous situation, and that’s hypnotic. It’s easy to find yourself attached to all three women, each of them has their own agenda and none of them are 100% right or wrong, but as a viewer, you find yourself discovering how you would react and feel if you were in the same situation. It challenges you to ask yourself that question and is that much more entertaining for doing so.
BODY‘s writing is an excellent part of its ability to bring you in and sink its hooks into you, but where the film’s true success comes from, is the performances from Rogers, Turshen and Molina as the trio of girls trying to make it out of the house alive. The unraveling of their friendship feels natural and real, the chemistry between them feels authentic and you find yourself caring about what happens to each of them. Also impressive, is the small yet pivotal performance from Larry Fessenden, who is able to do so much with very little talking. It shows how great of an actor Fessenden is, something that is sometimes overlooked yet important to see.
A breath of fresh air and one hell of a thriller, BODY is a film that warrants a second viewing, and one that will not only impress you but will stay with you after it’s over. It shows how crucial it is to have great performances and shows the potential of two very talented directors. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.