After announcing its first cast member last week, Paramount Pictures is bringing The Ring reboot to theaters this year!!
Rings, the newest incarnation of the J-horror franchise that’s to be directed by F. Javier Gutierrez and stars Italian actress Matilda Lutz, will hit theaters November 13, 2015!
“Rings” is also the name of the short – directed by TCM 2 and TMNTs’ Jonathan Liebesman – that accompanied the purchase of The Ring 2 on home video in 2005.
As previously reported by TheWrap, Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing the horror film, which will once again feature Samara and a deadly video tape, though Rings will feature a fresh young cast rather than Naomi Watts.
Aviva Goldsman, David Loucka and Jacon Aaron Estes all had a hand in writing the script, which is based on the 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki.
The Ring was the incredibly 2002 remake of the J-horror classic, Ringu, which starred Naomi Watts as a woman uncovering the mystery behind a haunted VHS tape. It also served as some inspiration behind V/H/S.
In addition to shifting the release of Friday the 13th, Paramount Pictures is also moving the latest installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise, taking October back once and for all!
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, which was originally scheduled for this coming March 13, will now be haunting audiences on October 23, 2015. It’s nice to see a Halloween release once again for the PA franchise!
Greg Plotkin is directing from a screenplay by Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark.
The plan is to release PA5 in 3-D for the “Ghost Dimension,” which has an 80′s vibe to it.
PA5 will be opening against Lionsgate/Summit’s The Last Witch Hunter, which means one of the two films will be forced to move. Who will budge? We put our money on Witch Hunter.
Breaking news this Tuesday evening as Paramount Pictures has once again delayed the release of Friday the 13th, this time taking it out of the planned November slot and moving it to May 13, 2016.
This comes on the heels of the news from two weeks back that there still isn’t a script for the reboot to be helmed by The Signal and V/H/S director David Bruckner.
Platinum Dunes producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form have already confirmed that the new Friday, which will be the 13th film in the franchise, will in fact feature the iconic Jason Voorhees.
For those who just crapped their pants, be happy that it’s at least being worked on, unlike a new Elm Street. And were is Michael Myers when you need him?
At least we all know that Jason can never die.
Next Month sees the release of a brand new horror book I couldn’t be more excited about. ‘Plunder’ from BOOM! Studios, written by Swifty Lang (Feeding Ground) and drawn by Skuds Mckinley reinvents the pirate genre. Seriously this isn’t the swashbuckling Pirates from the Caribbean, these are the pirates of Captain Phillips. They are cut throat, dangerous, and fearless until they find a research vessel harboring some unknown horror. We caught up with writer, Swifty Lang to talk all things horror, inspiration, and John Carpenter.
Bloody-Disgusting: Horror at its best seems to boil down to a loss of control and a degradation of the human form into something based solely on survival. Already, “Plunder” has self-serving pirates, with no rules, and no respect so how else did you work these themes into the book?
Swifty Lang: When the pirates board The Seeker, even though they are a lawless bunch, there is certainly a hierarchical structure. Pirates operate within this book in a very similar way to street gangs, with a very clear leader. What distinguishes the internal cohesion is these aren’t just random people who have joined up, they’re family. Clan is incredibly important, and not just a metaphorical tribe, but literally cousins and extended family. This makes ties run incredibly deep, but also brings up all the internal jealousy and history that family members have. If there is respect, and there is, it is closer to allegiance.
What horror also does is breakdown, or invert the social order. What happens when all bets are off? As in a war situation, what happens when leadership begins to make bad decisions, or is not seeing things accurately? From the outset, our crew is confronted not only with absolute carnage, but a previously successful leader who they have trusted many times before who is showing terrible judgment. This is very frightening because when one has already surrendered their autonomy to a group, a dose of chaos makes one ask questions. The move towards self-preservation is its own kind of violence. It’s a cleaving of identity.
They are both literally trapped because of circumstance and psychologically trapped because of their loyalty to the clan. There is always safety in numbers, or at least the illusion of it. The decision to move forward, to march towards the grave, is where control begins to slip. Being bullied by leadership to take foolish actions is a loss of control. It’s a little bit terrifying to see a parent cry, to realize they are making it up as they go along, too.
BD: Bahdoon finds himself stuck in this debut issue. At 14 years old he’s experiencing real horror for the first time, thanks to the actions of his fellow pirates, and what they find on the ship. What motivated you to make the protagonist that young? And how old were you when you really experienced something horrific for the first time?
SL: Bahdoon’s age is very important because his illusion being shattered is horror. Firstly, that age has a real hunger for adventure, yet they are old enough to begin to understand adult need. Think of a movie like The Goonies. Bahdoon is driven by both. Bahdoon wants more opportunity than his peers. He’s incredibly ambitious, but he’s not beyond influence. His moral compass is still being shaped by experience. He will listen to adults. He may think he knows better, he may have stopped listening to his parents, but he is definitely still seeking mentorship. This is why gangs are able to recruit people that young. They seem to have it all figured out and they have all the trappings of conspicuous consumption that a young person might hunger for. Having a cool car is pretty impressive. Someone more set in their ways who is not tied by family would have the self-preservation instinct to blow up group cohesion, especially if they’re rebellious.
When I first started working on the book, Bahdoon was even a bit younger. Through conversation with Rebecca Taylor and Chris Rosa (two INCREDIBLY talented editors) it became clear that Bahdoon had to be older in order to be able to do the things he must to survive. Someone a bit younger may have buckled. I think that idea of ‘playing pirate’ and ‘being pirate’ are kind of two ideas someone that age holds in their head simultaneously. Once one learns about the ramifications of their decisions, their actions, playtime is over, and it’s terrifying.
The first-time I experienced true horror, which I define as having a set of expectations horribly inverted, was when I was six years old. I wrote a story about the experience with my co-creator on FEEDING GROUND, Michael Lapinski, in The Gathering called Sparkler. One 4th of July, my father, who is a neurosurgeon found out I was playing with sparklers. Instead of a happy father/son hospital visit to make rounds, he took me to the burn unit and introduced me to a kid burned over 95% of his body. I never really played with fireworks after that. I was afraid of turning on the oven until I was married.
BD: I was surprised by just how relentless this first issue is. You don’t waste any time getting to the gore, but in doing so you raise a lot of questions. What is your approach to storytelling? And why abandon the slow build of tension that is so well known in horror?
SL: That is something I actually discussed with my studio mate Dean Haspiel recently. Originally, there was a slower build, almost a prologue, of a craft sinking into the water. In Skuds’ and my pitch packet we enter Somalia in media res. A member of the clan has been shot and they’re on the run looking for a place to hide. It’s amazing how ideas come back around. Chris Rosa made the suggestion of really trapping them and it felt really organic, it fit. It was a fantastic idea.
I have used the technique of disorientation in other work, most recently a short film I made with my wife called The Showing. Much like in cult indoctrination, disorientation makes one susceptible. Loud music, bright lights, distractions, they open up the mind to seek some kind of order. And then a leader emerges, whose capable hands one is more than willing to step into. In storytelling, that leader is both the storyteller and the protagonist. On a subconscious level as a viewer/reader you ask, “please help me make sense of this.” Your loyalty is instantly aligned with the protagonist.
Though we get the prologue scroll in Star Wars, we still start out with enough of a disorienting chase scene to ask, ‘what’s going on here?’ Even The Thing uses this technique, a mysterious wolf running in the snow being fired at, such an AMAZING, I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-is-going-on, opening. In PLUNDER, beyond the action, instantly one has to figure out the language cues, and who is talking, and you’re involved in the narrative. It’s a risk to make a viewer do the work from the outset, but when things move from that sense of heightened tension to a crawl, it’s a relief. And when you club them next, it hurts even more.
BD: I couldn’t shake the connection to John Carpenter’s The Thing, but your storytelling is noticeably different than that film. What is your biggest influence coming into Plunder? What motivated you to tell this story and better yet, why modern day Somalian pirates?
SL: Now The Thing really establishes a group that knows each other as much as a group of men working together can, but they still don’t completely trust each other. They live with each other in tight quarters. If you watch the dissolution of that group, it all comes down to how they swig their alcohol. When they do and don’t share their bottles. With PLUNDER there is more trust because you are dealing with family or close connections. You really want to believe the person to your left has your best interest in mind. I guess I wanted to explore what does it feel like when the people you trust most can’t actually be trusted. They’re still selfish, and you know this, but you do the dance out of fear or habit.
I was also hugely influenced by Jay Bahador’s: The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World. That was my primary source as far as research was concerned. It did an excellent job of not only giving some background into the root of piracy, but also how gangs operate in many ways similar to street gangs: leadership at the top, foot soldiers at the bottom. Now I’ve definitely taken liberties in terms of technology (cell phones, geo-tracking), but all of that was an effort to keep this somewhat timeless. Nothing roots something more to its era than technology.
I chose Somali Pirates because I am always interested in Robert Merton’s Strain Theory – the idea that criminals want the same things that most of us do, but they don’t have the opportunity to get it. The idea that society creates criminals due to the distribution of wealth or blocked access. Most criminals want the same things we do, the ability to feed family or themselves, but those opportunities are not there. They are driven by need more than want. I am fascinated by deviance, people who abandon a conventional sense of morality. To paraphrase Nas, “I root for the villain,” but I don’t identify with him. I try to understand their motivation.
Outside of The Thing, which is nearly a perfect film about group dynamics, I had recently read Doctrow’s Billy Bathgate for another project I was working on. It was a shared reference (and her initial recommendation) between Rebecca Taylor and me. The young initiate who is in over his head is the essence of Billy Bathgate. Bahdoon, at a certain level always watched the pirates being big shots in the market, and he wants a piece of that action. He sees men who have taken what they want and admires it. So this idea was definitely there. There is something aspirational about their wrongdoing. They won’t be suckers in a world that cares less about them. They are the disenfranchised that have the courage to not feed on the scraps, to take more than the world gives them. The reality is Bahdoon may not be tough enough for that adult world, until he has to evolve to survive.
Most pirates never had to resort to the kind of violence this task requires. Many were fisherman who picked up a gun because of blocked opportunity. Their seas were illegally overfished; there was toxic dumping in their water. While I am not advocating their violence, I abhor real violence (I don’t even watch MMA), I always try to understand the root. It’s fascinating to me what drives someone to hurt another. A real pain is usually at the source. It’s much easier to punish and respond to the reaction than question and heal the source of violence. We couldn’t have a privatized prison industry without it. What the hell would the news look like if we weren’t told to be afraid? Nothing cements the current power structure like fear.
BD: As I reached the halfway point of issue #1 the isolation of the group really got to men. Horror on the highseas doesn’t happen often, but the remote location really makes the situation desperate, what for you is the scariest part about setting a book on an abandoned boat?
SL: Getting to play on that boat is the ultimate set piece. It’s by no means a realistic boat. It’s part submarine, part eccentric’s mansion, and part research vessel. If something like The Seeker exists, I haven’t seen it, and if it does, I am sure an eccentric billionaire is at the helm. Boats are really scary because there is nowhere to run if shit goes down. There’s no one to call to help. The best you can do is float and hope the sharks don’t get you. There’s a painting by Winslow Homer called Gulf Stream that influenced me. It shows a man in a small boat alone with a broken sail. Sharks circle around, and he simply awaits his fate. The man’s face is amazing. He’s resigned to his death. He has moved past fear to that moment when you shift from fight or flight to a sleepy, narcotized acceptance.
Boats also offer no cues other than themselves. There’s no neighborhood to determine, no geography to make sense of. They just are, and we have no idea about their port of origin. As for hope, all one can do is look off into the horizon and pray. If you are going to put characters in dire circumstances, you can’t do much better.
BD: Is it important to you that the horror comes through the characters rather than the situations or both?
SL: I don’t think you can really distinguish the two. If one is not invested in the characters it’s pure spectacle. There’s a place for that kind of horror, but I find it really dull, numbing. It’s almost like pornography in the sensations must become greater and greater to get a reaction. Culturally, that’s where we’re heading. I mean, the Saw series is essentially clever kills, and they are clever, but they work as kind of Rube Goldberg Machines of murder. I grew up when we used to rent Faces of Death at slumber parties and tried to gross each other out. Some of the stuff I am putting into PLUNDER is freaking me out. I’ve definitely asked myself where the hell that came from, or showed my wife a script sheepishly. That’s how I know I am hitting the right notes. There are more situations and set ups than I had in FEEDING GROUND, but part of that is having more experience writing for this medium.
BD: The last five pages are just relentless in terms of gore, scares, and incredible set pieces. What kind of discussions did you and Skuds have to develop these intense scenes and what are you most excited to unleash upon people in the future?
SL: Thanks for that. The truth is, much of that is Skuds’ genius. Where I have laid out the story beats, dialogue, images, and the emotional moments, he made sense of that visually. The geography and making sure it hits at the right time is what Skuds was able to do. He is so talented and one of the true pleasures of working with him is how he is constantly surprising me with how he elevates a script. Though his work ethic is next level, it seems to be effortless for him.
Editorial also played a big role in helping create the tension through parallel action. All the essentials were there, but I rewrote this bad boy MANY times. I am really fortunate to be working with such a talented team. I am not working in a bubble. For me, comics are as collaborative a medium as film. I’m not sure how other writers work, but I live on notes. I just happen to be getting some really great ones.
As far as the next issue, without revealing too much, I can’t wait to see some of the hallucination sequences. Again, I wanted to push this as far as it can go, but it is rooted thematically, and in character. I don’t want ‘strange for strange’s sake.’ I just want to give you some honest nightmares.
‘Plunder’ #1 hits comic shops Feb 18th.
Drafthouse Films has set a date for the phenomenal Spring, the stunning new genre-defying supernatural love story from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, V/H/S: Viral), opening in U.S. theaters (through Drafthouse) and on VOD (through Filmbuff) March 20th.
“Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci, ‘Evil Dead,’ ‘Thumbsucker’) is a young American fleeing to Europe to escape his past. While backpacking along the Italian coast, everything changes during a stop at an idyllic Italian village, where he meets and instantly connects with the enchanting and mysterious Louise. A flirtatious romance begins to bloom between the two – however, Evan soon realizes that Louise has been harboring a monstrous, primordial secret that puts both their relationship and their lives in jeopardy.“
Reviewed by Fred Topel
At the intro to his midnight premiere of The Hallow, director Corin Hardy called it a grounded, dark fairy tale. It is that but it’s so much more too. It’s also a creature feature, a siege movie, possession and body horror. It serves all five and now makes me really happy Hardy is doing The Crow.
Adam is working for a logging company in a small town where the locals believe the forest belongs to some creatures. Now, even if they were just hostile locals, that’s scary enough. I would quit. The logging business can’t be lucrative enough to endure scary locals threatening my family. But of course, having watched movies before we know the townie freaks are actually right.
The Hallow is relentless when the creatures come after Adam, his wife and his baby. They just keep coming and break through every barricade, poke through every keyhole. Big loud jump scares are backed up by first rate creature design and staging of the attacks. When Adam is working on the power generator while the his wife is guarding the baby, she’s f***ed. Those things are coming at her.
That’s the siege and the creatures, but they can also possess Adam so that’s another threat on top of the above. It mutates his body so there’s your Cronenberg. There’s some good old black goo oozing around too. The fairy tale is in the mythology, which is explored in the third act.
All of the above is just a list of things The Hallow did right. Combining all those elements and keeping it intense, all with characters who have been established as passionate and loving, makes us invested in the ride Hardy is taking us on. After he’s done with The Crow I would be happy to revisit The Hallow again, but of course I would. I’m Franchise Fred and I think there should always be sequels to everything, indefinitely, no exceptions. Bring on Return to The Hallow, Bride of The Hallow and, of course, The Hallow in Space.
Just last night the Sundance Film Festival hosted the World Premiere of Anouk Whissell, François Simar, and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s Turbo Kid, a post-apocalyptic splatterfest in which a kid must face his fears, and journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl.
The filmmakers behind the film talked to Bloody about 5 films that traumatized them as children.
“Growing up, we watched a lot of movies – many of those for which we were way too young (we have cool parents). Because we’ll forever live with those moments, here’s the top 5 of the movies that traumatized us as kids – and made us the filmmakers we are!
(Since we had to come to a consensus between the three of us – these are not in a particular order.)”
Here’s who is officially in talks for the new Ghostbusters, as reported by Variety: Kristen Wiig, pictured above, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
Paul Feig is directing with Katie Dippold penning the script.
Several sources say Jones is likely to play a government official similar to the role William Atherton played in the original.
Sounds like this is becoming a “SNL” parody sketch instead of something inspired.
Allegedly, the plan is to land “Game of Thrones” fav Peter Dinklage for the villain role. He would play the ghost of a murderer (sort of like Wes Craven’s Shocker, actually) who resurrects a ghost army based on historical characters.
A few days ago, our very own Jonathan Barkan asked you which Freddy kill was your favorite. I decided to take his idea and expand it to kills and deaths in any horror film, period. A great kill scene is (arguably) enough to elevate even the worst movies to mildly watchable. As a way of not repeating Jonathan’s list and other lists before me, I’ve decided to eschew any deaths from the Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street or Child’s Play films. The deaths that follow are 13 deaths that I have found to be the most creative, gory or just downright disturbing in horror films. Now I want to know yours!
This week: We review the “Resident Evil HD Remaster,” discuss what’s up with “Dying Light” having no review copies, and much more!
Anonymous notes, a jump rope, an overgrown yard, a crumpled piece of tinfoil, a baseball bat and a drill guide a group of individuals towards violence, sexual perversion and an inevitable encounter with Red Luck.
Bloody Disgusting has your exclusive first look at the trailer for “Red Luck,” an official Slamdance Film Festival experimental shorts selection.
“Red Luck: is described as a weird hybrid experimental horror/thriller/fantasy/cult/genre film that begins, “As sunny day comes to an end, a handful of seemingly disparate characters converge in this surreal psychosexual thriller. Something bad is blowing in the wind and it’s not a good day to go out looking for love. Weeds are growing, the sun is setting…and Red Luck is coming.”
Check out the exclusive trailer premiere to go along with a handful of stills, animated goes and the one-sheet.
A few weeks ago, developer Playism Games revealed NightCry (formerly known to us as Project Scissors) through an eerie live-action trailer, directed by Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On, The Grudge). The game has some serious names attached to it, including Clock Tower series creator Hifumi Kono and Pyramid Head creator Masahiro Ito.
NightCry is a spiritual successor to the long-dormant Clock Tower series that returns the series to its roots in 3D point-and-click adventure style gameplay. Like so many other passion projects, Playism will require a substantial amount of funds to realize it.
If they’re successful in raising $300,000, the game will come to mobile and PC, with other platforms potentially to follow.
Having its World Premiere tonight at the Sundance Film Festival, we landed the first look at Turbo Kid, helmed by Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell.
What we learned from said clip is that the movie is actually incredibly bloody and violent, something we had been told from insiders. Now we have our proof!
“In a post-apocalyptic future, The Kid, an orphaned outcast, meets a mysterious girl. They become friends until Zeus, the sadistic leader of the Wasteland, kidnaps her. The Kid must face his fears, and journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl.”
It stars Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside, Aaron Jeffery, and Edwin Wright.
SUNDANCE SCREENING TIMES:
Monday, January 26, 11:59pm
Egyptian Theatre, Park City
328 Main St., Park City, UT
Tuesday, January 27, 9:30 p.m. – TURBO27RN
Redstone Cinema 1, Park City
6030 Market St.,, Park City, UT
Thursday, January 29, noon – TURBO29YD
Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City
1800 Park Ave., Park City, UT
Saturday, January 31, 6:00 p.m. – TURBO31WE
Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City
876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, UT
When Robotoki re-revealed their zombie survival game Human Element earlier this month, what we saw in its bombastic new trailer (see below) shared little resemblance to what was originally planned to be a horror game. It’s clear that at some point, its direction was refocused to cater to a wider audience. That move, it would seem, has caused quite a bit of trouble for the developer.
In a statement sent to Joystiq, Robotoki founder Robert Bowling confirmed that their decision to turn Human Element into a “premium” game had led to a falling out with its original publisher, Nexon. When Bowling was unable to find a way to replace those lost funds, the studio was forced to close.
“We were actively negotiating a new publishing deal for the premium version of Human Element but unfortunately I was unable to continue to self-fund development until a deal was finalized,” said Bowling.
It’s too bad. I’m not too enthusiastic about the new look, but Human Element still showed promise. Hopefully they’ll be able to find a new publishing deal soon.
Before developer Quantic Dream blurred the lines between video games and movies with their acclaimed serial killer thriller Heavy Rain, they made a little game called Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. It was a moderately ridiculous paranormal thriller that went overlooked by many folks, including myself. If you missed it back in 2005, a recent Amazon listing seems to have prematurely revealed a second chance for us to soak up its bizarre brand of chills.
According to the listing, Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered will take a page out of 343′s Halo remasters by letting players switch between the original game and the remastered version, complete with controller support, in-game textures that have been meticulously recreated in HD for mobile and desktop” and all of the original cut-scenes, uncensored and uncut.
If we’re lucky, it will also come with an option to disable all those QTEs.
The $10 remaster is slated to release on January 29 for PC.
You’d have to be a right bag of dicks to not be able to appreciate how good this month has been for horror games, and I can’t think of a better chaser than the survival horror ghost ship scavenger hunt, Monstrum. The game brings the spooky scavenger hunt concept to a monster-infested ghost ship that changes every time you play.
Team Junkfish is slaving away over their overheated computers to make sure Monstrum hits Steam Early Access this Thursday (Jan 29). To celebrate its imminent arrival, they’ve gifted us with this brand new trailer.
I spent some time with its latest demo as a part of our 13 Days of Horror series last October. Watch it scare the f**k out of me in the video below!
The makers of the upcoming indie sci-fi horror game The Hum have just announced a prequel game called The Hum: Abductions, which they plan on releasing later this year for PC, Mac and PS4. I was worried we wouldn’t be seeing more from this game when its crowdfunding campaign failed to pick up steam last September, but it seems those worries were unnecessary.
Abductions follows “Holly Sanders, a mother and wife, who is living hard days since her husband’s mysterious vanishing, months ago. Lonely and disturbed, with her little son Dan as her only company, Holly will uncover the past and present events of the Sanders family, while facing a terrifying approaching revelation.”
The game will come with Oculus Rift support, they’re also working on bringing it to Linux.
Famed horror director John Carpenter has been building up his album Lost Themes for a few months now. The 9-track album is a collection of brand new music that evokes the classic stylings of Carpenter’s films, such as Halloween, Escape From New York, Assault On Precinct 13, and more.
Lost Themes was all about having fun. It can be both great and bad to score over images, which is what I’m used to. Here there were no pressures. No actors asking me what they’re supposed to do. No crew waiting. No cutting room to go to. No release pending. It’s just fun. And I couldn’t have a better set-up at my house, where I depended on (collaborators) Cody (Carpenter, of the band Ludrium) and Daniel (Davies, who wrote the songs for I, Frankenstein) to bring me ideas as we began improvising. The plan was to make my music more complete and fuller, because we had unlimited tracks. I wasn’t dealing with just analogue anymore. It’s a brand new world. And there was nothing in any of our heads when we started other than to make it moody.
The album is now available to stream in full via NPR.
A huge part of why I love horror movies is that they’re just so damn fun! I enjoy being scared. I enjoy the way the filmmakers try to create an immersive atmosphere, one that tries to convince me that what I’m seeing is possible, that the shadows in my house, the dark corners, are really traps that hold unspeakable terrors.
Part of the way this is done is that the villain has to be engaging, enthralling, and just downright awesome to watch! We all know how exciting Freddy Krueger is, with his quips and sadistically dark sense of humor. Then there’s Jason Voorhees and how entertaining it is to watch him stalk and slaughter off a bunch of jerk teenagers that, in some way, kinda deserve their fate. Or what about the Alien Queen and her massive, terrifying frame?
So let’s take a few minutes to showcase some of the entertaining horror baddies, the ones that make us cheer or, at the very least, eat our popcorn with a giant grin across our face.
Alfred Hitchcock once said “It is very difficult, very painful, and it takes a very, very long time to kill a man.” According to the trailer for Blood Simple, anyway. Regardless, it’s an appropriate quote to have in mind going into Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s feature debut Body. Set on Christmas Eve, this compact thriller details the emotional fallout an accidental murder has on three friends who were only looking for a good time. This is why everyone should be with their families on Christmas Eve, you guys. So no one gets killed.
Our main protagonist here is Holly (played by Helen Rogers of V/H/S and The Sacrament), who’s spending Christmas Eve with her old friends Mel (Lauren Molina) and Cali (Alexandra Turshen). When smoking weed and playing Scrabble at Mel’s house gets boring, they decide to go party in a vacant mansion belonging to Cali’s uncle. Vacant is what she tells them anyway.
Quickly into their night of lavish debauchery, a man (Larry Fessenden!) enters the house. Alarmed, one of the girls accidentally knocks him down a long flight of stairs. Believing him to be dead, the three girls argue over what to do – call the cops? Say it was self-defense? Just get the hell outta there? But the most important questions of all, is the guy really dead?
How each girl reacts displays their true personality. Before the killing, we get to see them riff off of each other and clown around. Early on it’s easy to see that Cali is the wild card, the one who wants to have fun by any means necessary. Mel’s the reserved one and Holly is the most level-headed of the three. The girls play off of each other very well, which establishes a nice shared history without having to dish it to us with bland exposition. Too many horror flicks fail to do so, handing us a group of kids who don’t seem like they would hang out together if they had guns pointed at their heads. So having this camaraderie between the three girls shine early on in the film adds just enough weight to make the stakes feel high later on.
Following the killing, the girls’ relationship begins to unravel as they’re forced to deal with one disturbingly resilient corpse. A series of bitter squabbles brings to light how they really feel about each other and hot damn does the venom fly. The tension builds up nicely, with each macabre scheme and argument chipping away at the girls’ bond. When there’s nothing left to hold them together, Body climaxes in a beautiful moment of rage, resentment, and sweet, sweet comeuppance.
There are some hiccups along the way. Body is only 75 minutes, but it takes a long time to really get cranking. The partying montages could’ve been trimmed a bit to make way for more tense one later on. I don’t mind watching Helen Rogers dance in slow motion, don’t get me wrong. I just wish the thrills in this thriller arrived earlier. During the Scrabble and weed session at Mel’s house, some dialogue comes off really awkward. I’m not sure if that’s intentional, since the girls may have not seen in each other for a while, but it screws with the flow of things.
Once Body starts to build momentum, however, it remains tightly wound and as sharp as a Fessenden’s hairstyle. Morbidly entertaining and emotionally honest, Body is one helluva debut for Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Keep their asses on your radar.
Body had its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival on Jan. 25.