April 22, 2019 Body at Brighton Rock (Movie Review)
Despite the name, the new Thriller Body at Brighton Rock has nothing to do with Graham Greene’s 1938 novel Brighton Rock. Nor does its have anything to do with the famous 1948 film adaptation, or its 2010 remake. Written and Directed by Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound 2015, XX 2017), it is about Wendy (Karina Fortes: The Deleted 2016, Iconic 2019), a part-timer at the Park. She takes on the job of watching over the rough trail to prove her mettle to her friends and colleagues. Things go awry when she takes a wrong turn and ends up finding a body. She calls for help, but only gets orders to look after the site before losing her radio. Can she stick it out? Or will there be more danger to come?
In theaters and On Demand on Friday, April 26th through Magnolia Pictures, Body at Brighton Rock is certainly technically sound. The intro sequence shows off a nice backdrop and text. It even throws in some nice shots, like a sequence where it looks like Wendy and a model bear on a signpost are looking at each other as she is fixing her hair. The film has a playful, almost sitcom-ish beginning before shifting into the thrills.
Plucky, young Wendy trying to show she has the mettle to be a ranger by doing her duty, before sticking in the earbuds and dancing down the trail to an ’80s tune. That is not to mention the mad rush to work set to Oingo Boingo. If the whole flick had a camera filter on it, gave the extras some mullets, and replaced Wendy’s phone with a Walkman, it could have been a period piece.
That said, the mood gets dour enough once she is stuck out in the wilderness. The perky synth music fades away in favor of menacing strings, gleeful dances turn into paranoid steps, and helpful colleagues become quite unhelpful. Fortes sells her role well too. She makes the character endearing enough to sympathize with at the start and does a convincing job as someone at the end of her rope.
Is that enough though? Body at Brighton Rock looks nice and crisp and has a fine lead performance. The camera shots and cuts look neat, and often pleasingly cheesy with its jumps and zooms. The problem is that not a lot happens in the film. Most of it is spent on Wendy sitting alone with the dead body as the direction tries to press the paranoia angle hard. So, Fortes must carry the picture acting-wise, beyond brief scenes, the likes of Casey Adams (Dunkirk 2017, Blindspotting 2018) as Red and Emily Althaus (Orange is the New Black series) as Maya do not get a lot to do.
There are moments where the story teases something happening, like Adams’ suspicious hiker, or a creepy, stalking sequence. It just shrugs them off in favor of more scenes of Wendy’s growing terror and distorted sense of reality. It does do a good job of convincing the audience Wendy is going mad with fear. It just does not take them along for the ride, like it found a visual way of telling over showing.
All this said, Body of Brighton Rock does not forget to provide a payoff to its teases, as it has a Twilight Zone-esque twist at the end. Unfortunately, despite all its effort, the film probably would have been better off trimmed down and shown as an episode of a Twilight Zone-esque show. The nice visuals and Fortes’ acting can only entertain for so long before it feels like it is dragging the story out. It is not quite a film full of nothing, but it is a half liter of juice in a 2-liter bottle. As such, Cryptic Rock gives Body at Brighton Rock 2.5 out of 5 stars.