Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the slasher horror/comedy DEAD BODY by director Bobbin Ramsey. To describe the story I will turn to a slightly modified version of the IMDB plot description:
Nine high school kids celebrate graduation at a secluded home in the wilderness before they had out to college. Once the party dies down they decide to play a game called DEAD BODY. When someone starts murdering the teens one by one, it's up to the group to set aside their tensions, and ferret out the murderer before it's too late.
I am going to have to start this review with a bit of a confession: I love the parlor game Mafia. There is something about working in teams, analzying how people act, making accusations based on hunches, and the deception involved in the game that checks nearly every box for me. When early on in this feature they decide to play a game very similar to Mafia, my reacion mirrored one of the characters, "You know what? It's perfect, I'm into it."
From this point on, what was already an amusing enough film became quite a lot of fun to watch. Since the identity of the killer is kept secret from the audience, we, like the leads, get to play amateur detective while they try to suss out the murderer. I will grant that those who spend a lot of time in the mystery genre will probably be able to figure out the solution, but there is still enough fun crammed into these eighty minutes to make the ride enjoyable.
What kept this movie entertaining throughout was the light touch appliecd to the characters. To be honest, we have seen the majority of these roles before and this picture never tries to hide that fact. From the stereotypical druggie to the sex crazed couple, these faces are used as shorthand so that we can get to the real action of the game.
While the focus seems to be on propelling the story forward, the actors never felt as if they were phoning in their performances. It was easy to believe each of the various performers in their roles because not only were they played perfectly, but I had also never seen any of these people outside of this feature. This is a perfect example of how not knowing a cast can make a film better just by the sheer dint of their solid performances being a nice surprise.
Now even though I have piled some praise on this feature, I have to say that I did find the overall style of this piece a bit lacking. What they provide is not in any way bad or cheap looking, but I would have loved to have seen a more active camera or some dynamite shots. If the cinematography had more fluidity or stylization added into the mix, it would have perfectly matched the clever twists and turns of the plot.
All in all, the fun story and mystery aspect make up for this film's few shortcomings. While more seasoned sleuths will probably guess the solution before the conclusion, the characters themselves and short runtime make it easy to justify staying for the finale. I would recommend this to fans of Agatha Christie's many works or those who love more traditional slasher mysteries like SCREAM (1996).
The Creeping Craig