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Review: BODY CAM (2020)

The main selling point of Paramount’s Body Cam is, of course, singer Mary J. Blige in her first starring role. She had her breakthrough as an actress in Mudbound and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for it. Here, she plays a veteran cop caught up in a wave of seemingly supernatural killings of her fellow officers.

Freshly returned to duty after time off due to issues in both her professional and personal life, Renee (Mary J. Blige) is teamed with Danny (Nat Wolff, Death Note, The Fault in Our Stars), a rookie. On their first patrol together, they’re sent to check up on a fellow officer who’s gone silent after a traffic stop. They find him very, and inexplicably, dead.

We saw part of what happened in the prologue. Renee sees some of the body cam footage on the cruiser’s computer. It’s glitchy, but you can make out what’s happening. The thing is, nobody else can see it and IT says the computer was fried. As more killings occur, she tries to figure out what’s going on. And why only she can see the footage.

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Body Cam isn’t going to earn anyone any Oscars, but it is an entertaining and bloody film. Surprisingly so considering it’s from a major studio. But that’s a good thing, as this is basically a B movie gone somewhat upscale. Something Paramount would know about from its days releasing films like My Bloody Valentine and the Friday the 13th franchise.

There’s plenty of creeping around in dark buildings, but not as many jump scares as you might expect. Although, one involving a swarm of roaches is very effective. Instead, Body Cam concentrates on suspense. Director Malik Vitthal (Imperial Dreams) and writers Nicholas McCarthy (At the Devil’s Door, Holidays), and Richmond Riedel (Target Practice) treat it as a mystery, a what dunnit if you will.

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Letting it play out this way is a nice change of pace. We know something is killing members of the LAPD. We get to follow along as the leads try to figure out the what’s and why’s. And that does involve a few surprises. Body Cam isn’t the most original film you’ll see, but it manages to keep things fresh.

I’ve seen a couple of articles mention Get Out in relation to Body Cam, but there’s no real comparison here. When the root of the killings is finally revealed, police brutality is involved. But not all of the officers involved are white. Nor does the entity doing the killing hesitate to take out a pair of black thugs who get on the wrong side of it. Race really isn’t a factor here.

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My only real complaint is that Renee finds the starting point for her investigation way too easily. It’s a bit too coincidental. But apart from that, Body Cam is an enjoyably blood-splattered bit of filmmaking.

Paramount Home Entertainment will release Body Cam for purchase on Digital on May 19th, 2020. It will be available On Demand on June 2nd. DVD/Blu-RBlu-rayay release is set for July 14th.

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