Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s Body is an electrifying indie thriller that despite a very short running time (75 minutes or so), the film packs a twisted punch as its story is entirely fueled by an accident and the lives it threatens to tear apart on a Christmas Eve night. In it, a night out turns deadly when three girls break into a seemingly empty mansion and things go horribly awry after they unexpectedly run into the property’s groundskeeper.
Like I mentioned above, Body is surprisingly short for a feature film, wasting no time setting its deeply unnerving story in motion. But what’s tricky about a film like this—and it’s surprising they actually pulled it off—is that its entire premise only really works if you’re invested in the lives at stake, which in Body’s case is the three friends. That’s a lot to ask of a film that doesn’t even reach the 80-minute mark, but Berk and Olsen pull it off seamlessly, developing three likable (and believable) characters by making their friendship feel genuine. So rather than wasting time developing three individual characters, the film instead highlights a friendship and the bond shared between them as a boring night of Scrabble turns into a nightmare in a mansion.
Body is, at its core, a no-frills narrative that takes the simplest idea and unravels it into a straight-up nightmare for these girls, using the cold setting of a Christmas Eve night to bind them within the walls of a mansion. The film uses the surefire formula of a classic thriller, closing in on its characters and forcing them to fight for their lives—and it’s amazing how small a mansion becomes when one wrong decision cements their fates forever. But where Body really runs away with this one is in its ability to stay ahead of the viewer every step of the way. There’s a twist around every cold corner of the story, ratcheting up the tension between its characters that threatens to not only destroy their friendship, but their very lives.
What I really liked about the movie is that it was able to draw out so much drama and suspense from of a very simple idea, and that it forces us to put ourselves in these girls’ shoes. And a lot of the power behind the story works because of its fast-developing narrative that throws a shitstorm of emotions at you. It all unwinds so fast—what was once a night of fun has quickly turned into the worst kind of nightmare, one where monsters are made and lives are changed forever.
The film goes to work on that simple idea of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, hinging on an accident that masterfully creates tension and suspicion between these girls. The constant sense of dread and horror tucked away into the Christmas season is fantastic, too. I’d love to say more but it’s hard to talk about what makes this movie so great without spoiling it. But what Body boils down to is a very confined thriller with a cold, claustrophobic atmosphere and a Hitchcockian pulse. It’s about the horror of one wrong decision, the ease at which friends become enemies, and just how quickly your perfect night can go to hell.