A trim, well-staged morality thriller, Body offers one of those pulpy narratives in which an assortment of characters bicker over a catastrophe that coaxes out their most mercenary instincts over a short period of time. The film is so trim, in fact, that it could stand to have more fat on its figurative bones. There’s no incidental material, and there’s little style or personality. The filmmakers spend quite a bit of their running time establishing the callousness of their protagonists, subsequently escalating interpersonal tensions so rapidly that the film is over before we’ve had the opportunity to savor any emotional cross-currents. Considering the characters in question, the audience might not be missing much nuance anyway.
Holly (Helen Rogers), Cali (Alexandra Turshen), and Mel (Lauren Molina) are college students with well-to-do parents, at home for the holidays. They’re smoking weed together on the night before Christmas Eve, drinking wine and vegging out on rich food, teasing someone’s younger brother. Cali is clearly the meanest and most restless of the trio, looking for trouble, eventually urging Holly and Mel to pile up in a car and head over to her loaded hedge-fund uncle’s mansion, where they get real loaded. The evening takes a turn, and the women find themselves in the midst of a nightmare that suggests a smaller-scale version of the sort of events that drove Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things or Olly Blackburn’s Donkey Punch, though those films, while junk, evinced a lively, memorably nasty aura of debauchery.
Body has no tricks up its sleeves. The actors are credible, but they aren’t interesting enough to fill in their paper-thin roles. These characters are attractive, horny, like to party, and initially feel awkward about maybe killing someone inconvenient to their night’s plans—and that’s it. Larry Fessenden pops by as a groundskeeper and immediately charges the film with his poignant, evocative working-class persona, but he doesn’t hang around long. We’re stuck with these college students, and it doesn’t take long to discern their course of actions and the repercussions said actions will incur.
It’s a matter, then, of waiting until the film catches up with its inevitable ending, which is so abrupt as to essentially elide the entire third act, the portion of the narrative where one expects the characters’ amorality to be tested. Body is a remarkably uncurious thriller, as writer-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen exhibit no interest in watching the story’s central wolves wiggle out of the trap they’ve potentially set for themselves.