DEAD BODY from 2017 comes from director Bobbin Ramsey and stars Rachel Brun, Cooper Hopkins, and Spencer Hamp. What got me interested was the cover art (very Clue), what made me stay was the action (Saucedo brings the sauce).
Dominic (Jay Myers) invites an old friend, Ilsa (Brun), to stay the weekend at his dad’s summer cabin before they go off to college. To Dominic’s chagrin, Ilsa has also invited her boyfriend and four other people to the weekend cabin get-away. If this were Reddit, yes Ilsa, YTA. Dominic is justifiably upset but allows them to stay.
The group eventually tires of the lackadaisical sexual tension and love triangles, so they decide to play the game “Dead Body” (cue title card). The game is a lot like the werewolf card game (there’s a lot of them, so take your pick), except there’s just a killer and victims. The game is actually mobile, meaning you hide and run around until you find a “dead body” of one of the victims that the killer got to. You pause the game to try to solve who the killer is and if your guess is wrong, the person is out and the next round begins.
Of course, this all goes to hell when people start ending up dead for real.
Armed with only rudimentary tools from the house, the group tries to find the killer among them before it’s too late.
So, I’m going to say it and you might not like me, but…there’s weird and unnecessary racist sentiments in the movie. Honestly, it baffled me because just as easily as it was put in, it could have easily have been taken out because it never added or changed the story. In fact, it was consistently overlooked by the white protagonist.
We have two Japanese characters who we barely know by name (Mariko and Kenji), who are only there to get their honban on and don’t really have much to add to the story besides being someone’s love interest (which we find out after they’re dead). Apart from being grossly called “The Tokyo Twins”, they are not interacted with much within the movie and are both treated with some kind of disdain. We really have no idea who these people are besides what the white characters tell us about them…and I kind of have a problem with that.
I know this wasn’t an intentional thing because, at the end of the day, this point was never really addressed within the movie. It’s very reminiscent of Sixteen Candles and Long Duk Dong, but he actually had more speaking lines and more of a character (I mean, not a great one, but in comparison). The thing is, though, that movie was an 80’s movie and this was made three years ago.
This movie will probably not have a huge impact on our culture, just looking at ratings and reviews alone, but is still a part of a bigger issue within our media, even indie media which usually has more creative control over the finished product.
Overall, I liked the movie. I thought it was fun. I was confused by the relationship between Rumor and Marcus because there was very strong chemistry between them and softness to their relationship. I enjoyed the death scenes (props to Shane Saucedo, they were very enjoyable scenes). I liked the end (even with the revealed killer and motivation, honestly it was kind of funny). I thought the acting was great, especially for an indie. The effects were terrific and practical (again, props, Mr. Saucedo). The score was fine. The cinematography was clean and easy to follow. The sum of its part was enjoyable camp of the 2010s.
But this was diluted by that strangeness of Mariko and Kenji and how much they were treated as “the other”. Just an odd choice that, as a viewer, I didn’t understand and didn’t exactly appreciate.
Bottom line; It’s a fun enough movie for an indie night, marathon, or while working on a project. But it could have been easily better with adjustments to the writing.
DEAD BODY is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.