Roxanne Benjamin has directed segments for a trio of anthology films, Southbound, VHS, and XX. Now she steps up and makes her feature debut with the thriller Body At Brighton Rock. She takes the old trope of a woman alone in the woods at night and adds a dead body for good measure. Does it add up to a suspenseful film, or is it dead on arrival?
Wendy, (Karina Fontes, Southbound) trades assignments with fellow park ranger Maya (Emily Althaus, Orange Is The New Black). This means she’ll be spending the day covering a particularly rough trail to post warning signs. She’s having a good time, even sending a selfie of herself on a high ridge back to her friends. That’s when she finds out that she’s not where she thinks she is and there’s a dead body below her.
Since it’s a possible crime scene she has to stay with the body until the police arrive. Since it’s already late afternoon that means an overnight stay. The situation becomes more unnerving with the arrival of Red (Casey Adams, XX) who claims to have been hiking for days but has no pack or gear. He also takes a suspicious interest in the body before leaving. But will he be back? And is he the worst thing out in the dark, this is bear country.
Working from her own script Benjamin does a good job of playing with our fears and expectations. By making Wendy a rookie, not used to being deep in the woods let alone overnight, she connects her with a large percentage of the audience who would be just as disoriented and scared. And like her, we’d like to think we were up to the challenge.
And that’s what is at the core of Body At Brighton Rock. Can Wendy hold herself together and deal with her fears? Can she handle the threats both real and imagined? And the threats do mount up and lead to a fittingly Twilight Zone-styled ending.
An enjoyable, if lightweight, film, Body At Brighton Rock mixes jump scares, beautiful photography that emphasizes how isolated Wendy is, and a creepy atmosphere and situations to keep the viewer interested.
Body At Brighton Rock is available from Magnolia Pictures on streaming and VOD platforms.