Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Slamdance ’15: Body
is sort of like an episode of Girls,
but with Larry Fessenden. When three former high school friends break into a
McMansion for some Christmas Eve partying, they wind up with some explaining to
do in Dan Berk & Robert Olsen’s Body (trailer here), which screens
during the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival.
for the holidays and slightly stoned, Holly, Cali, and Mel are looking for
something to do on a cold Christmas Eve. Cali suggests they kick up their heels
in her rich uncle’s pad, because he doesn’t mind her having the run of the
place. Holly and Mel agree, even though there is something funny about her
story (they’re stoned, remember). After a little breaking and entering
(seriously, he won’t mind), they start hit the rec room hard. Eventually, Holly
has the sense to ask why there are so many pictures of an Asian family on the
turns out there is no rich uncle. Cali used to babysit for the owners years ago
and knew they would be away for the holidays. As this uncomfortable truth sinks
in, the girls are surprised by the creepy caretaker. Things get a bit confused,
resulting in his apparently fatal accident. With no legal justification for
their presence there, the three friends need to get their stories straight, but
the circumstances and resulting moral dilemmas keep getting more complicated.
good news for Larry Fessenden fans is he has a new genre film at Slamdance. The
bad news is he spends nearly the entire film flat on his back. Still, let’s
just say he has his moments. Nevertheless, the relationship between the three
twentysomething women really forms the heart of the film. Berk & Olsen take
a fair amount of time to establish their complicated relationships somewhere
along the continuum between friends and frienemies. Viewers get the sense they
have long histories together and are used to being around each other, even if
their feelings are a bit ambiguous. There is also something vicariously
enjoyable about watching them run amok in that swanky pad.
matters take a dark turn and get progressively darker, but Body is more closely akin to a claustrophobic stage-thriller than a
horror movie. Helen Rogers anchors the film quite effectively as Holly, who
passes for the film’s voice of reason and the closest thing it has to a conscience,
whereas on the other hand, Alexandra Turshen clearly enjoys getting the film’s
best opportunities for scenery chewing and most pointed lines as the mildly sociopathic
Cali (hey, nobody’s perfect).
feels a bit restrained, especially with Fessenden along for the ride, but
it vividly captures the weird vibe of being somewhere rather isolated during a
time of collective celebration, like the holidays. It is a clever and aesthetically
economical dark thriller, recommended for genre fans when it screens again this
Thursday (1/29) at Treasure Mountain Inn, as part of this year’s Slamdance.
Labels: Larry Fessenden, Slamdance '15