Movies · Reviews

Body Plays a Game of Three Girls, One Larry Fessenden

By  · Published on December 12th, 2015


Three friends head out for a wild night during Christmas break, but their fun turns deadly when a stranger enter the mix. A series of questionable choices leads to an accidental death, but fearing possible reprisals on them and their families trio embarks on a course of action from which there is no return.

Holly (Helen Rogers), Cali (Alexandra Turshen) and Mel (Lauren Molina) have been tight since childhood, and this holiday break sees them reverting to old habits – a girls’ night sleepover, stealing a smoke in the backyard, taking humorous jabs at each other – but when the idea of heading to bed at 9p rears its head they decide to shake things up. Cali suggests they go crash her rich uncle’s house since he’s out of town, and soon the three twenty-somethings are partying the night away in the man’s home.

But then Arthur (Larry Fessenden) arrives and the good times grind to a deadly halt.

The setup to Body is familiar enough from films as diverse as Stag and Very Bad Things, but what immediately sets this one apart is that the friends are women. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if they simply swapped genders, but writers/directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen actually invest time in creating these characters beyond simple character types. The first thirty minutes or more are spent getting to know the women – something the genre isn’t necessarily known for – and the actors exhibit real chemistry making for a believably friendly threesome.

Once the incident occurs and the poor decision-making begins, the film deftly avoids the plot’s usual downfall – viewer frustration with the characters’ behaviors and choices. We still stare at the screen confident that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes, but we’re not getting irritated with their stupidity either. They react true to their characters, and the back and forth discussions they have, the attempts to convince each other of various positions, are well-crafted arguments weighing convenience, logic and morality.

The cast is strong throughout, and even Fessenden turns in a solid performance under severe limitations. The highlights though are Rogers and Molina. Rogers has been dancing around the indie scene for a few years now but has been deserving of an even bigger audience since she injected heart into V/H/S’ best segment. Her character is the moral center here, but both the script and Rogers do some smart things with that designation. Molina meanwhile moves from the casual to the emotionally confused with a messy kind of grace. Her character becomes the observer we identify with, and she makes us care more than a genre thriller typically asks of us.

Body is a simple tale told well, a smart script brought to life with strong performances and a sharp eye, and a fun piece of entertainment.

Our review of Body originally ran as part of our coverage of the 2015 Stanley Film Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens today in limited theatrical release.

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.