Fessenden with costars Molina, Turshen & Rogers
at the midnight premiere at IFC, NYC
The film follows three twenty-something women on the night before Christmas Eve. Cali (Alexandra Turshen) and Holly (Helen Rogers) visit their friend Melissa (Lauren Molina) at Melissa’s parents’ house.
Turshen, Roger, and Molina have genuine sisterly camaraderie, so much so that it doesn’t matter that the dialogue and situations they find themselves in before being discovered is so light that you’ll barely remember it when the film ends. That’s actually the secret of the film’s success: it maintains a certain tempo and interest that you’re so immediately involved you don’t even realize you’re being sucked in.
A perfect example of the unassuming spell “Body” casts: Larry Fessenden’s excellent performance as … well, I can’t really tell you that. Fessenden, a horror filmmaker who has nurtured several talented American indie horror filmmakers at his own Glass Eye Pix distribution label, is an exceptional character actor. He steals every scene he’s in, and his big scene in “Body” is no different. Fessenden is an ideal bit player: he lures viewers in without going so far over the top that his performance seems to hail from a completely different film. He can be a ham, but Fessenden’s performance in “Body” is magnetic, and leaves you feeling like you’ve been turned inside-out.
But “Body” is not about Fessenden. He’s a key part of the film’s success, but no single part of the movie is more important than the rest. The film’s exceptionally consistent mood is its main appeal. For that reason, “Body” reminded me of supposedly minor Alfred Hitchcock masterworks “Dial M for Murder” and “Rope.” In those earlier thrillers, Hitchcock’s unmistakable talent serves ideas that seem to evaporate, or at least lose their thematic weight as soon as soon as you’re done watching. One can only hope that Berk and Olsen’s body of work grows to the point where “Body” is unfairly remembered as a minor success.
Still, right now, we’re at the beginning of Berk and Olsen’s promising career, and most viewers don’t know that “Body” is a must-see. “Body” may be the kind of genre film you take for granted, but there’s nothing inessential about a sharp, well-crafted thriller just because it’s not particularly flashy, and doesn’t have any big ideas. No, “Body” may not be the kind of modern-day B-movie that wins awards, but it does exactly what it sets out to, and that’s a fair amount. So go ahead: see this film for yourself. You won’t know what hit you.